Category: She & Him

A Beach Boys homecoming at the Hollywood Bowl

The group’s trademark SoCal sound will be in full effect Saturday at the Hollywood Bowl. Here are a few points to ponder about Brian Wilson and the crew.

Original members of The Beach Boys, from left, Brian Wilson, David Marks and Mike Love, perform together during a concert at the Beacon Theater in New York. (AP Photo / Jason DeCrow)
Brian Wilson officially quit as a touring member of the Beach Boys in the mid-1960s and has only been on stage periodically with the band since. As for an album together? It’s been decades. But this week Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks stop at the Hollywood Bowl for a 50th anniversary tour which kicked off last month in Arizona. 

The Saturday night show — followed by the release of their new album together, “Why God Made the Radio,” on June 5 — is a homecoming of sorts for this quintessential SoCal band. In celebration of this landmark event, Pop & Hiss compiled a list of facts, stats and random bits of info associated with Beach Boys, Version 2012. 

Lies, damned lies and statistics:

For avid Beach Boys fans, no fact is too innocuous to share with the world, and thank God the Internet was invented for exactly this purpose. Helpful tidbits amid all the Beach Boys minutiae include lists of songs the group has performed since launching the anniversary tour.

Songs played at all 19 shows as of Friday include cornerstone hits from the Beach Boys songbook: “Good Vibrations,” “California Girls,” “I Get Around,” “Little Deuce Coupe,” “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “Help Me, Rhonda”; their last No. 1 hit, 1988’s “Kokomo”; and their newly written and recorded anniversary celebration single, “That’s Why God Made the Radio.” (Marketing lesson 101: Always plug the new stuff.)

Some surprises among the stats:

“All This Is That,” a relatively obscure song from the 1972 album “So Tough,” which was credited as Carl & the Passions, has been included nearly every night — as has “Don’t Back Down,” a song that never charted from 1964’s “All Summer Long” album. “This Whole World,” from 1971’s “Sunflower,” has turned up 10 times, according to the obsessive documentarians at www.setlist.fm.

The group’s Top 10 hit that has surfaced least frequently? “Dance, Dance, Dance,” which has been played, played, played just five times so far.
New thoughts on old songs:

In Mark Dillon’s new book “Fifty Sides of the Beach Boys,” the Canadian author interviewed — yep — 50 different sources about their favorite songs from the group’s career. 

What is Alice Cooper’s favorite number, you ask? In the book, they quote him discussing “In My Room”: “I was 15, I was the perfect age for that. Your room is your sanctuary. It’s your Batcave. It’s the only thing you own, so there’s a certain holiness to it. ‘Mom, Dad — don’t come in my room. It’s off limits.’”

As for the ubiquitous Zooey Deschanel? She cites “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” from the watershed 1966 album “Pet Sounds” album. “Talk about blowing my mind. I can listen to the song over and over again.” She’s also a big fan of the separate vocal and instrumental tracks that became available with the 1997 “Pet Sounds” box set: “Listening to just the vocals is really exciting. It still sounds fresh. It always makes me happy.”

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Zooey Deschanel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt team for New Year's tune

Zooey and Joseph
If "500 Days of Summer" wasn't enough cute for you, tune into this YouTube video that was posted earlier today by Zooey Deschanel and her longtime friend Joseph Gordon-Levitt on her HelloGiggles.

The ever-adorable Deschanel fittingly wears a sparkling tiara while dishing up an old-fashioned version of Nancy Wilson's "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" Gordon-Levitt backs her up on guitar, and while he may not have the musical chops of his "She & Him" counterpart, he shows off his shy falsetto.

Watch the clip below:

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She & Him's holiday nod to the Beach Boys

She & Him She & Him

This is the 15th year I’ve sorted through the annual deluge of holiday releases to assemble The Times' roundup of the new and most noteworthy additions to the ever-expanding universe of yuletide music. Among the most refreshing to my ears is “A Very She & Him Christmas,” the duo with singer-actress Zooey Deschanel and guitarist-singer-songwriter M. Ward.

Their new album is sweetly down to earth, sounding as if they recorded it in someone’s living room or basement, and the tracks are primarily seasonal classics, including “Sleigh Ride,” “Silver Bells,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Blue Christmas” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

One act that’s represented more than once is the Beach Boys, from which Deschanel and Ward drew “Little Saint Nick” and the less-frequently covered “Christmas Day,” both from “The Beach Boys Christmas Album” originally released in 1964.

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Holiday music: Justin Bieber, Michael Bublé, Tony Bennett and more

She & Him She & Him

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

The late, great Hunter S. Thompson once said, “When the going gets weird,the weird turn pro.” Or they make a Christmas album -- or both. Either way, any year that brings holiday releases from human Ken dolls Justin Bieber and David Archuleta, Stone Temple Pilots drama king Scott Weiland and the chipper cast of “Glee” certainly scores high on the “Seriously?!” scale. Here are the high and lowlights from the latest volley of holiday music albums.

*** Paul Anka, “Songs of December” (Decca). Now an elder statesman of old-school pop, Anka sounds fully in control of the myriad resources afforded him for his first holiday recording in half a century. Inventive arrangements contribute strongly to his approach as a genial latter-day compadre of Der Bingle or Tony Bennett. Nothing remotely revolutionary, but plenty of comfort food for the ears.

** David Archuleta and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, “Glad Christmas Tidings” (Mormon Tabernacle Choir). Anyone on your list who thinks Jerry Bruckheimer is too subtle? Here’s the holiday CD for them. The Mormon “American Idol” alum from Utah is surrounded by the choral army on his second Christmas collection, recorded live last year in Salt Lake City. His sweetness and charm come through best on the Spanish-language traditional “Los pastores a belen.” A PBS special of this performance is airing this month.

*** Tony Bennett, “The Classic Christmas Album” (RPM/Columbia/Legacy). These 18 tracks, largely drawn from Bennett's previous holiday releases going back to 1968, are every bit as consistently classy as we'd expect from the pop master. The CD also includes one previously unreleased recording of “What Child Is This.”

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Fiona Apple, Paul McCartney, Black Keys, Modest Mouse and more sign on for Buddy Holly tribute

BUDDY_HOLLY_AP_3_ The catalog of rock 'n' roll pioneer Buddy Holly has continued to thrive long after the singer's life tragically ended at 22, and it will get a fresh look this summer when artists as varied as Cee Lo Green, Kid Rock, Fiona Apple, Modest Mouse, Lou Reed and Paul McCartney will appear on the 19-track collection "Rave On Buddy Holly." To be released June 28 by Fantasy Records/Concord Music Group, "Rave On" features recently-recorded takes on Holly classics such as "That'll Be the Day," "Peggy Sue" and "Oh Boy," among others.

The set opens with bluesy revivalists the Black Keys tackling "Dearest," and comes to a close with Graham Nash revisiting "Raining In My Heart." In between, the likes of She & Him take on "Oh Boy," Modest Mouse remakes "That'll Be the Day" and Karen Elson, with husband Jack White, refashions "Crying, Waiting, Hoping." Florence + the Machine cover one of Holly's signature songs in "Not Fade Away," and Apple, largely absent since the release of her last album in 2005, teams up again with Jon Brion for "Every Day." 

McCartney, long a champion of Holly's work (he produced and hosted tribute film "The Real Buddy Holly Story") sings "It's So Easy." Perhaps not coincidentally, McCartney's MPL Music Publishing administers the rights of Holly's catalog, and late last year the Beatle moved his solo work to the local independent Concord Music Group. The "Rave On" project was overseen by music supervisor Randall Poster.

A press release from Concord promises that "Rave On" "steers clear of the reverent re-creations typically found on similar projects." Florence + the Machine, for instance, are said to bring a New Orleans vibe to "Not Fade Away," a song famously covered by the Rolling Stones, and Modest Mouse are teased to bring "That'll Be the Day" into avant-garde territory.

Poster is quoted in the press release: “As the tracks from various contributors were gathered for the album, we seemed to be gathering pieces of a complex and original puzzle … that traces back to the roots of rock and roll and shapes so much of the music that followed.”

A full track list is after the jump:

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Ludo Lefebvre + She & Him = Win

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The timelessly vintage indie-pop of She & Him will join a bill that already includes such A-list chefs as Ludo LefebvreSuzanne Goin and Mark Peel, among many others, performing a headlining set Sept. 5 at the Los Angeles Times' Celebration of Food & Wine. The musical pairing of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, who recently played the Hollywood Bowl with the Swell Season and the Bird & the Bee, are said to be playing a full set at the all-day Labor Day weekend affair.

The event, hosted by our co-workers at the Los Angeles Times Media Group, will run from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the Paramount Pictures Studio lot. General admission tickets start at $55, and there is a VIP option for $125.Times food editor Russ Parsons will lead discussions with culinary experts and chefs, and there will be cooking and mixologist demonstrations. 

There's even good news for those with more discerning palates: A press release touts the presence of craft beer, although breweries are not yet listed. If there's a downside to a date with food nerds and She & Him  -- beyond worrying about one's budget, of course -- it means some of us on Team Pop & Hiss will probably be spending a Sunday with our co-workers. 

This isn't the first time She & Him has catered to the epicurean crowd. In March, the act appeared at a party hosted by Rachael Ray at the South by Southwest industry conference in Austin, Tex. She & Him has been touring in support of its recently released "Volume 2," which saw the act gradually and subtly adding more symphonic and harmonic flourishes to its wistful Southern California pop

The polite food-focused studio backdrop should suit She & Him well. Even when the band turns it up, such as when it tackles Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven" or Ward's own "Magic Trick," it's still an elegant sound that seems fit for smiling bluebirds and a skip down Disneyland's Main Street. She & Him is winding down its promotion of "Volume 2," and as of now its only other California date is Oct. 17 as part of San Francisco's Treasure Island festival.

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Live review: The Swell Season, She & Him and the Bird & the Bee at the Hollywood Bowl

SWELL_SEASON_325In another era, the Swell Season’s performance of “Falling Slowly” at the Hollywood Bowl on Sunday night would have been accompanied by 17,000 Bic lighters glowing in the summer air. 

The ballad catapulted the Swell Season, the Irish/Czech duo comprised of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, into the American mainstream when they won the Academy Award for best original song in the indie film “Once.” It’s a song tailor-made for heavy petting, and on Sunday night it certainly pleased the crowd.

But by that point – nearly three hours into the show, part of KCRW's World Festival -- the masses didn’t need much prompting. On an evening also featuring openers She & Him and the Bird & the Bee, the Swell Season walked onto the stage after the other two male/female duos (and backing bands) had rolled out a red carpet of lush, bouncy songs that filled the Bowl with good spirit.

“Have a glass of Chardonnay for me,” requested the Bird and the Bee singer Inara George as she greeted the crowd, accurately capturing its tastes. Wearing a sparkling flapper’s dress and offering sophsiticated cocktail pop music, George and musical partner Greg Kurstin, accompanied by a seven-piece band,  Bird_bee_325  delivered a sound that recalled Burt Bacharach’s adult-oriented songcraft. As well, they played two songs from the Bird and the Bee’s recent tribute album to Hall & Oates—”Sara Smile” and “I Heard It on the Radio”-- which set the crowd into nostalgia mode.

She & Him, the project of actress Zooey Deschanel and guitarist/songwriter M. Ward, offered a catchier fare, one that’s steeped in Brill Building pop and 1970s-era country music. Deschanel proved herself more than merely an actress with a singing hobby; her voice was powerful and confident, especially during the band’s final song, a take on Screaming Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You.” 

The Swell Season’s set pushed up the volume from the start. At times Hansard sang so hard it seemed like his eyes might pop out of his head. 

One of the highlights, though, was Irglova’s solo turn in front of the mike. Strumming an acoustic guitar, she dedicated a gorgeous, nuanced version of “I Have Loved You Wrong” to the actor Colin Farrell, who presented the Swell Season with their Academy Award at the 2008 ceremony. 

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The nine-piece band crafted a sound that blended classic ‘60s soul – Hansard’s got a voice to rival Van Morrison’s and Otis Redding’s – with a brand of blue collar rock that suggested Bruce Springsteen. The Boss, in fact, wrote the final song that the Swell Season performed: “Drive All Night.” It perfectly captured what the Swell Season does best: conveying a passionate honesty that cuts through pretense and tackles pure emotion. 

-- Randall Roberts

Photos: Glen Hansard, top right, and Marketa Irglova. The Bird and the Bee's Inara George, center, and She & Him's M. Ward, bottom left, with Zooey Deschanel. Credits: Gina Ferazzi  / Los Angeles Times


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She & Him's M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel pick their musical love letters to California

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She & Him
's "Volume Two" was only released four months ago, but for being a relatively new album, it's one that feels steeped in nostalgia. The light orchestrations bring a genial upbeat touch to even the most heartbreaking of lyrics, and over the course of two albums California natives M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel have gradually brought a sunny, decidedly West Coast-feel to delicately symphonic retro-pop tunes.

"Volume Two" comes with its own love letter to California in "Home," a piano stroll accentuated with handclaps, swooning background vocals, crisp guitar notes and keyboard lushness. It arrives near the end of an album that's full of sweetly nuanced arrangements built around Deschanel's conversationally cheery vocals. A take on NRBQ's forgotten "Ridin' in My Car" is built for a windows-down cruise, and "In the Sun" is a three-minute call-and-response keyboard frolic that wouldn't sound of out place on Disneyland's Main Street.

"My earliest music memories were driving around and being in the back seat of my parents' car and listening to music," Deschanel said. "I feel like I associate music with California and the sun and a particular sort of feeling. It’s something that’s important to me to express when I write music. When we record, California is definitely on our minds."

On Sunday, She & Him will perform for the first time at the Hollywood Bowl, joining a bill that also includes local electro-pop outfit the Bird and the Bee and acoustic romancers the Swell Season. The classic Hollywood venue should suit Deschanel and Ward just fine, as this is music built for a Los Angeles sunset. 

To mark the occasion, Deschanel and Ward spoke to Pop & Hiss for a few minutes last week to discuss some of their favorite California songs. Deschanel went with a theme, choosing songs only with California in the title, whereas Ward, who grew up in Ventura County, opted for songs that evoked a certain time and place.

Song: Dick Dale's "Misirlou"


Ward had the surf-rock staple at the top of his list."I picked songs that reminded me of California," Ward said. "It’s a very personal, subjective thing that pick songs that remind you of where you came from." 

Dale's arrangement of the Greek pop standard became the artist's signature song. "That Dick Dale song takes me to the beach near where I grew up, near Point Mugu," Ward said. "I don’t know what year that was, but it’s such an incredible song by an incredible guitar player. I hope people still feel like Dick Dale is the heart of surf music. People now are making surf music more modern, and I really hope he’s not forgotten."

Song: Mark Eric's "California Home."

 

Mark Eric, California_Home

Deschanel had Ward stumped with this pick. "I've never heard of him," Ward said of the little-known L.A. native who recorded a light, Beach Boys-influenced pop album in the late '60s. "He’s got a lot of great harmonies," Deschanel said. 

"California Home" tracks a homesick cross-country flight back to Los Angeles. "It’s kind of about being away from home, and thinking about California when you’re not in California," Deschanel said. "That’s sort of the theme of my picks."

 

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Coachella 2010: She & Him's California soundtrack

Zooey The setting at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival can do wonders for certain acts. On a pristine green desert polo field surrounded by palm trees, Coachella is California at its most storybook. She & Him, the pairing of actress Zooey Deschanel and guitar slinger M. Ward, was jubilantly sunny on the outdoor stage, a trip down a fantasy memory lane that could serve as the sort of good-time pop t hat scores Disneyland's Main Street.

Even when She & Him gets tough, it's still a sound fit for sharing a shake at a soda fountain, as evidenced by the band's tackling of Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven." M. Ward can riff with the best of them, but with She & Him, he uses his talents to frame a warm backdrop for the sweet-voiced Deschanel. For the largely young Coachella crowd, "Why Don't You Let Me Stay Here" could have been the kind of bouncy, sing-along tune that Mom and Dad turned up when they drove down PCH. Deschanel wasn't nearly as interested in the song's pouty lyrics as she was its upbeat, jangly guitar skip, as she opened the song by doing jumping jacks with a tambourine.

Back again as they have on recent shows by the Chapin Sisters, She & Him's live show continues to mature, as backing harmonies and counter-melodies show She & Him has more than a few tricks to its name. Yet this is still retro-pop at its most swoon-worthy. "Why do I always want to sock it you hard," Deschanel sang, and one could easily imagine the bluebirds on her shoulder making angry faces.

--Todd Martens

Zooey Deschanel of the band She & Him performs during the first day of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., Friday, April 16, 2010. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

She & Him's trip down memory lane at the El Rey

She_him_presshere275A few songs into She & Him's Thursday night set at the El Rey, actress-turned-singer Zooey Deschanel had an apology to make. All the sad songs, said Deschanel, were loaded up top, and it wasn't her intention to start the gig by bumming out the crowd. 

But even when She & Him does sad, it comes with a side of sunny. Singing "Thieves," from the just-released Merge Records album "Volume Two," Deschanel was neither gritty nor overly glum when she declared that "a love like ours is terrible to lose." When it comes to her vocals, Deschanel is more matter-of-fact and resigned -- an extremely conversational take that acts as if the last two decades of diva showboating and reality TV over-singing never happened. 

Yet now two albums into a three-plus-year career, Deschanel showed Thursday night that she's more assured than ever, bringing in glimpses of upper-register shading, and her letting her notes drag and fade around M. Ward's warm guitar work. With the Chapin Sisters providing backing harmonies and added keyboard textures, "Thieves" was timelessly vintage, featuring orchestral swells that split the difference between heartache and what could have been the showcase cut of a hand-drawn Disney film. 

Portland, Ore.-based artist M. Ward plays to Deschanel's strengths, keeping the arrangements gently nuanced. For all the talk of She & Him as a retro-pop band, the act has gradually taken subtly adventurous steps over its two albums, using girl group frames and country dalliances as a base. "Me and You" was all acoustic candlelight, while "Lingering Still" flirted with a bossa nova groove and M. Ward's own "Magic Trick" was made-over into a Herman Hermit's-styled ditty. 

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