Category: Todd Martens

Dan the Automator, Dogfish concoct a beer/music mash-up

Dan the Automator
An electronic whiz who is comfortable incorporating jazz, funk, pop and soul into complex hip-hop textures, Dan "The Automator" Nakamura's latest project uses more old-world ingredients. Apples, for instance. And cilantro. 

Like lots of Nakamura's other concoctions, "Positive Contact" is a mix-and-mash of seemingly random components. Unlike any of them, however, it is a beer.

This week, Delaware's adventurous Dogfish Head Brewery began shipping a beer-and-vinyl box set dubbed "Positive Contact," a limited-run collaboration that pairs a 10-inch white vinyl of Nakamura's Deltron 3030 music project with six 750-ml bottles of an ale brewed with Fuji apples, cayenne peppers and cilantro. It should be hitting California retailers in the coming days, if it isn't on shelves already.

Embarking on the project, Dogfish founder Sam Calagione assigned Nakamura perhaps the dream homework assignment of beer nerds everywhere: "I sent Dan every single beer that we make in bottles," Calagione says. "Every day or two for a month-and-a-half he would send me elaborate tasting notes on each beer. The goal was for me to figure out his palate."

Dogfish has a reputation as one of the more experimental -- or simply weird -- craft breweries. The beer designer was the focus of a Discovery Channel series "Brew Masters," which tracked Calagione's quests around the world for ancient, unexpected ingredients. Among its 34 beers are ales concocted with pinot noir juice and the "chemical analysis of 3,000-year-old pottery fragments found in Honduras." The company's former assistant brewmaster, Jon Carpenter, is the lead brewer at L.A.'s burgeoning Golden Road Brewing.

Dogfish's music connections run deep. Chicago resident Jon Langford, leader of long-running punk outfit the Mekons, has designed artwork for the brewery (Langford also paints, and Calagione owns one of his portraits of Johnny Cash). Dogfish has also released a Miles Davis-inspired beer (Bitches Brew) as well as one named after Robert Johnson (Hellhound on My Ale). Last year, Dogfish unleashed Faithfull Ale, a beer that celebrated the 20th anniversary of Pearl Jam's "Ten."

The Pearl Jam ale has been retired, and Calagione doesn't expect to ever bottle it again. It is, as Calagione says, "a collector's item," and bids for bottles on eBay start at about $40. "Positive Contact" sets will be limited to a run of 8,000, and Dogfish is suggesting retailers sell the box set for between $60 and $70. 

Nakamura says expanding into beer is a natural evolution. "It’s all sensual," Nakamura says. "Music is sensual. Food is sensual. Beer, wine and alcohol are sensual. So this all makes sense. Whether you make food, wine, music or beer, you’re dealing with emotions. That’s why there’s a certain kind of camaraderie among the elements."

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Radiohead postpones seven dates in wake of Toronto stage collapse

Image: The collapsed stage at Downsview Park. Credit: Geoff Robins / AFP/ Getty Images
The band Radiohead is continuing to feel the repercussions of a stage collapse that killed a crew member and injured three others before its show in Toronto on Saturday. On Thursday, the band announced the cancellation of seven upcoming European tour dates. In a statement, the band said it intends to return to its tour schedule July 10 in the south of France. 

The statement briefly addressed the tragedy that occurred at Toronto's Downsview Park, in which a stage collapsed at a Live Nation-promoted show that was to feature Radiohead. Ontario's Labour Ministry has launched an investigation into four of the companies involved in setting up the concert,  Live Nation, Optex Staging & Services, Nasco Staffing Solutions and Ticker Tape Touring, according to the CBC

The collapse occurred after the stage had been rigged with Radiohead's equipment, and just an hour before gates were to open.

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KCRW launches Spotify application

A screenshot from the KCRW Spotify app
Spotify earlier this week unveiled an upgrade to its streaming radio features, allowing mobile users to sample stations based on artists, genres and time periods, as well as hatch a more personalized station from a selected playlist or track. Today, Spotify added an actual in-real-life radio station to its stable, as influential Santa Monica public radio station KCRW-FM (89.9) has launched its very own application for the popular music-on-demand service. 

Dubbed "KCRW Music Mine," the app is inspired by the station's already-developed iPad app and offers a very streamlined experience. Upon launching via Spotify's desktop client, users can scroll through up to 100 tracks at a time, as well as view selections handpicked from KCRW personalities and listen to up-to-the-minute, on-air playlists. If there's an obvious difference between the Spotify and iPad apps, it's that the latter format allows for more editorial and design flourishes.

KCRW's Spotify app is updated with the day's top track, and one can easily explore the breadth of an artist's Spotify catalog from the app's home page. Also, Spotify users who missed a favorite KCRW show -- or didn't catch the name of a specific act while driving to work -- can easily head to the app, click a DJ's photo and set aside the playlist for later exploration.

KCRW boasts that it is the first U.S. radio station to launch a Spotify app.


Ice-T gets back to hip-hop roots in ‘The Art of Rap’

Liz Phair on new record: 'I'm going to get this one right'

Green Day cancels Burbank show it never officially announced

-- Todd Martens

Image: A screenshot from KCRW's Spotify application.

Green Day cancels Burbank show it never officially announced

Billie Joe Armstrong
Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong has been hyping a free rock 'n' roll "sex party" since June 13, but not everyone, apparently, agreed with the singer's declaration on Twitter that "chaos=love." And now, the planned, not-so-secret show, one for which the band never revealed a date or location, has been preemptively canceled by the group. 

While minimal details were unveiled, the show was, according to a cancellation notice, going to be "massive." A representative from the city of Burbank tells Pop & Hiss that Green Day was looking to stage a concert on the streets near its record label, Warner Bros. Records.

"Initially," said Joy Forbes, Burbank's deputy city manager, "they said it was for Warner Bros. employees and some friends and family. The original request was for a private event." 

The band applied for a street use permit, but Armstrong's very-public tweets raised some eyebrows, as suddenly the concert was looking to be not-so-private. With Warner Bros. Records adjacent to a residential community, the city expressed its concerns.

Forbes said the city was ready to welcome Green Day with open arms, and suggested other locations as a compromise. The outdoor amphitheater the Starlight Bowl was suggested, as was Johnny Carson Park.

Either location would have eased fire and police concerns, and could have each accommodated around 5,000 or so guests. Forbes said the city was told that the more traditional venues were not what the band was looking for. 

As late as June 17, Armstrong tweeted, "The not so secret show in LA area will be some time this week." Earlier, the artist teased the show as one in which fans could bring their own booze, and he joked that clothing was optional.

The band's official statement read that "permits needed for the show were denied by the city due to crowd control issues.The anticipated turnout was well into the thousands, and after monitoring the situation, fears were the number would dramatically swell and pose serious concern for safety of concert-goers once the location was made public."

Forbes said the band's statement was "fair," and expressed regret that all parties couldn't agree on an alternate location. The first of Green Day's three new albums, ¡Uno!," is due Sept. 25. 


Ice-T gets back to hip-hop roots in ‘The Art of Rap’

Liz Phair on new record: 'I'm going to get this one right'

Nicki Minaj, Glen Campbell, Wilco among L.A.'s top summer concerts

-- Todd Martens

 Image: Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

In rotation: Kelly Hogan's 'I Like to Keep Myself in Pain'

In rotation: Kelly Hogan's "I Like To Keep Myself In Pain." A series in Sunday Calendar about what Times writers and contributors are listening to right now...

Kelly Hogan

“My name is Frank Sinatra,” sings Kelly Hogan on the M. Ward-penned “Daddy’s Little Girl.” She’s not, of course, but she pulls it off and that is no easy feat. Hogan turns the character study into gripping drama, delivering the lyrics with middle-of-the-night thoughtfulness and careful, woozy phrasing. 

There’s 12 more where that came from, each one expertly crafted with an all-star cast of songwriters (Robyn Hitchcock, the late Vic Chesnut) and a knock-out band that includes Booker T. Jones and the Dap-Kings’ Gabe Roth.

They lead Hogan on excursions into country, soul and pop, and never steal attention away from this long unheralded artist. Whether it’s the bar-band grandeur of “Haunted,” the rootsy nostalgia-turned-stubbornness of “Golden” or the symphonic vocals of the recession blues “We Can’t Have Nice Things,” Hogan sings with graceful warmth. It’s an album that begs for repeated listens, as Hogan is an artist who approaches each song as if it’s a story to unfold.

Kelly Hogan
“I Like To Keep Myself In Pain”


Liz Phair on new record: 'I'm going to get this one right'

D'Angelo's return in Europe: A singer comes out of the shadows

Nicki Minaj, Glen Campbell, Wilco among L.A.'s top summer concerts

-- Todd Martens

Photo: Kelly Hogan. Credit: Neko Case

D'Angelo returning to Los Angeles with House of Blues concert

R&B recluse D'Angelo is in hiding no more. After appearing with the Roots at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Tennessee in June, the sonic manipulator of funk and soul has booked a surprise July 4 date at West Hollywood's House of Blues, according to promoter Live Nation.

The Bonnaroo appearance marked the artist's first U.S. gig in 12 years, and catching D'Angelo at the House of Blues won't be cheap. Tickets are going for $129, once all the requisite fees have been added in. Tickets are on sale now (yes, now) via the Live Nation mobile app. The general on-sale date is Friday at 10 a.m.

D'Angelo has more than 30 songs ready to be released, according to friend, collaborator and Roots drummer Questlove. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Questlove said D'Angelo had recently "discovered Bowie and Zeppelin, the Beatles, 'Pet Sounds,' Captain Beefheart and Zappa," adding that the new works see D'Angelo experimenting more with guitars. It may or may not be coming out in late summer/early fall, according to Questlove. 

D'Angelo has released just two studio albums, works that in 1995 and 2000 helped usher in the neo-soul movement and then toyed with the genre. His last, 2000's "Voodoo," is considered a masterpiece that some say is on par with the best of Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. It's a dark, daring collection, with songs seemingly materializing out of foggy, middle-of-the-night jam sessions. Since then, D'Angelo has retreated to Europe and had some run-ins with the law, but all reports out of Bonnaroo are that the artist hasn't lost a step.

After the July 4 gig in West Hollywood, D'Angelo is set to appear at the Essence Festival in New Orleans. 


Liz Phair on new record: 'I'm going to get this one right'

D'Angelo's return in Europe: A singer comes out of the shadows

Nicki Minaj, Glen Campbell, Wilco among L.A.'s top summer concerts

-- Todd Martens

Image: D'Angelo at the House of Blues in 2000. Credit: Ann Johansson / For The Times.

Liz Phair on new record: 'I'm going to get this one right'

Liz Phair
Liz Phair is working on a new album, and last week in Los Angeles she shared her dreams for it. "My fantasy is that this comes out on Matador," she says, referring to the famed independent label that released her first three albums, including the career-defining 1993 debut "Exile in Guyville."

She's going to have to record it before she worries about finding a label, but Phair hopes to be on the road this fall, either previewing or supporting what she says will be a rock-focused album. 

Phair was last heard on 2010's "Funstyle," an Internet release that placed sarcasm and experimentation ahead of songcraft. It was a wild left turn from her last major-label effort, 2005's "Somebody's Miracle," an album that was drenched in studio gloss and attempted to force Top-40 hooks into Phair's loose, conversational approach. Phair resurfaces next week with an end-credits song to the DreamWorks/Touchstone film "People Like Us," a song that is a collaboration with Bollywood composer A.R. Rahman.

Pop & Hiss will have more on the partnership in coming days, but speaking on the afternoon of the film's premiere Phair promised that fans wouldn't have to wait too long for a new album. Unlike the off-the-cuff "Funstyle," songs that Phair said cost her management and label deals, the new record will be a more cohesive affair.

"I’m working on a proper rock record, a good, old-school rock record. Finally. I had a lot of issues to work out," Phair says, laughing and slinking into her chair.

"But this record has been a very beautiful experience. I’m not going to screw up the production, either. I’m going to get this one right. I have my head screwed on right. I haven’t been this way in a long time."

She credits her performance in 2010 at the Matador's 21st anniversary concerts in Las Vegas as reinvigorating her approach to music. Phair shared a stage with the likes of Guided by Voices and Yo La Tengo, and even dueted with Ted Leo.

"Oh, my God, what a godsend that was," she says of the experience. "What an amazing homecoming. That ended a whole cycle of pain. It was a rebirth. I remembered who I once was, and they remembered not to hate me so much. They remembered that it’s not all that ferociously awful, what I have done."

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Quick chat: Ice-T on the L.A. riots, LL Cool J and more

Ice-T’s directorial debut, “Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap,” documents the genre’s history through interviews with such artists as Dr. Dre and Kanye West. But the rapper-turned-actor (he’s now a regular on NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”) made history himself two decades ago when he emerged out of South L.A. as one of gangsta rap’s pioneers. He spoke with Pop & Hiss last week on the eve of his film’s release.

This year marked the 20th anniversary of the riots. With a little distance, how do you reflect on the music of that period?

Hip-hop preempted the riots. In Body Count, we did “Cop Killer” a year before the riots. If you listen to pre-riot records, we were saying, “Yo, stuff is hot down here. The cops are out of pocket. It’s not just us.” But it was a real tumultuous time, and the music reflected that. When the riots happened, I was in a studio. Dre was in a studio. I made a record called “Race War,” which was me saying that we got to get it together before it screws us up worse. Rap was the narrator of that time.

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Naked & boring: Shia LaBeouf is nude in aimless Sigur Rós clip

image: Shia LeBeouf and Denna Thomsen in Sigur Rós'  "Fjögur Píanó." The image is a screenshot from the not-safe-for-work video directed by Alma Har’el
It's delightful to see the words "Sigur Rós" appear on a number of major news sites. The adventurous Icelandic outfit makes lovely, atmospheric music. Theirs are soundscapes that develop like a satellite lost in space -- orchestral arrangements that drift and manage to feel a little futuristic.

The band deserves a wider audience, and if it takes a naked Shia LeBeouf to get one, so be it. After all, indie rock involving naked famous people seems like a fine-enough trend.

Yet life is too short for the 8½ minutes it takes to sit through Sigur Rós' "Fjögur Píanó." The video was released today as part of a video project the band commissioned for new album "Valtari." The director is Alma Har’el, and she has a gift, no doubt, for arresting, photo-worthy moments.

Her acclaimed documentary "Bombay Beach" was shot in the California desert and described by The Times as "more lyrical tone poem than straightforward documentary." Her video for "Fjögur Píanó" is far from ordinary as well, and also proof that not everything is improved by violence and eroticism.

Granted, "Fjögur Píanó" is perhaps the most difficult song on "Valtari" to translate into a music video. It's little more than sparse piano strikes. The tone is dour, and the orchestral touches at the end are tense and panic stricken. 

The video renders the song laughable, turning seriousness into pointless, art-school pretension. LeBeouf and partner Denna Thomsen are lovers, apparently, and spend the clip slapping and carving each other. They're also quite good at synchronizing their ability to sit up straight in bed. They get intimate with and without clothes, and move as if they're Olympic ice dancers. There are also dead butterflies for those looking for metaphors and worst of all, there are ceramics. 

Unfortunately, the full-frontal nudity from both actors/dancers means we can't embed or link to it. If it's a bad video you want, we can instead offer this head-scratcher from the Offspring


Ice-T gets back to hip-hop roots in ‘The Art of Rap’

FYF Fest 2012: Refused, Wild Flag, M83, Yeasayer booked

Nicki Minaj, Glen Campbell, Wilco among L.A.'s top summer concerts

-- Todd Martens

Image: Shia LeBeouf and Denna Thomsen in Sigur Rós'  "Fjögur Píanó." The image is a screenshot from the not-safe-for-work video directed by Alma Har’el

FYF Fest 2012: Refused, Wild Flag, M83, Yeasayer booked

Carrie Brownstein of Wild Flag
Now in its ninth year, the independent-focused FYF Fest is returning to the Los Angeles State Historic Park and for the first time since moving downtown will expand from one to two days. The lineup for the Labor Day weekend fest is an adventurous mix of acts young and old, leaning heavily on punk and veterans of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Top-billed artists this year include the reunited Swedish punk band Refused, reunited local rock band Redd Kross, the trippy M83, indie-punk supergroup Wild Flag and electro-soul artist James Blake. 

Once again the FYF Fest is working in conjunction with Coachella promoter Goldenvoice. This marks the fourth straight year that FYF has been stationed at the Chinatown-adjacent State Historic Park, also the site of this summer's dance-focused Hard Summer. While FYF has long specialized in promoting punk and noise shows in and around Echo Park, this year's lineup was first unveiled on Santa Monica's non-profit KCRW-FM, a sign of FYF's growing influence on the local scene.

Other acts booked for the festival, which will take place Sept. 1 and 2, include the reunited Desaparecidos, the politically inclined scrappy punk outfit led by Bright Eyes architect Conor Oberst, and the global influenced music of Yeasayer. All told, more than 50 acts were revealed Monday morning. Among the highlights: hard-core act Quicksand, noise-pop aficionados Sleigh Bells, '80s revivalists Twin Shadow, electronic act Purity Ring, the patiently ambient rock of Warpaint and in-the-news punk band Against Me!

Weekend passes will start at $77 and will go on sale Friday via Ticketfly. FYF Fest is all-ages and will run from noon until midnight each day. Tickets will also be available at independent record stores in the L.A. area and select Chilli Beans locations. Visit the FYF Fest site for a complete run-down of outlets. 

Complete lineup and poster is after the jump:

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