Monday, August 22, 2011

Our Own Little Music Fest

The Monrovia Renaissance is proud to present our very own (hopefully annual) summer art and music festival: Jam Time! Most festivals are ridiculously long, some taking up whole weekends, and can cost hundreds of dollars. The Jam Time musical extravaganza will compress all that fun and excitement into just a few golden hours and will only cost zeros of dollars! Wowee zowee! Jam Time 2011 will take place at the parking lot of El Rancho Meat & Provision in the heart of lovely Arcadia, California. The company's loading dock provides a perfect stage for the audience to catch our team of expert rockers and rollers summoning up some mad energy. The tentative line-up consists of the anthemic Mellow Maniac, the cryptic Sunscribe, the rowdy Death Valley Saints, and the electric Transpose. We'll also be showcasing the finest of art from local mavericks. This show is guaranteed to knock your mock doc's socks off or we will give you a full refund. Count on it!

Click here for the Jam Time 2011 Facebook event page

UPDATE: Unfortunately, the Death Valley Saints are unable to make it to the show. That doesn't mean you can't still check them out though! Our final line-up keeps Mellow Maniac, Sunscribe, and Transpose, and adds the soaring Savannah Van Band and the whoa-that's-actually-their-last-name Graves. As promised, there will also be several artists, as well as some live painting. That's where they paint something in front of you, not where they paint animals. Either way, if you miss out on this, we'll have Sam the Sham call you an L7. And no one wants that.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

It Came From The Record Shop

When I walked into Family Affair Music, Monrovia's landmark record store, I had no idea of just how life-changing my trip would be. I was there on a mission: to find the legendary bootleg 7" of Grape Grape's first and only concert, which took place at the Library Park bandshell in 1995. Searching the shelves got me nowhere, but I had a very reliable source tell me the bootleg was here. I decided to go ask the Man if he knew anything about the record (though he would most likely refuse to tell me). The Man, however, had just seen something that made him quite upset. "Another one!" he yelled, waving a CD jewel case like it were some sort of cursed object. When I asked what the matter was, he gave me the story. It seems some person sneaks into the shop on a regular basis and places their homemade CDs in the counter's bargain box. Though the person comes in about every week, the Man is still unsure what they look like and only knows they arrived when he finds the disc. This certainly was strange, but I still did not understand why the Man would be so upset. Then he told me: "...And they are filled with the worst stuff imaginable! Not only is it crude, it's not even good!" As I'm also a regular at Family Affair (albeit a more conspicuous one), the Man knows that I write for a music blog and have previously reviewed albums for various magazines. This knowledge, added to his confidence in his opinion, led the Man to thrust the CD into my hands, asking me to write the bad review the strange character deserved in the hopes that he would see it and be shamed into quitting his trips to the shop. As much as I wanted to help my friend, I found myself unable to write poorly about the album for one simple reason: it's amazing. Yes, it may be a bit rough around the edges: it boasts no-fi production, and completely lacks any kind of rhythm, melody, or sense of cohesiveness, but this is the album's charm. The enigma behind these recordings is one Deeton Slater; no other details are given in the album booklet other than the track names (the rest is all cryptic doodling). The songs are fractured yet rambling, and downright spooky. Overall, they give the impression that Mr. Slater is on the verge of a mental breakdown. Yet it is undeniable that this man is a genius. In the hopes that Deeton Slater will overcome his fear of rejection and stand up for his music, two of his songs will become the next installment in the Monrovia Renaissance Singles Series. Far from the best Deeton Slater has to offer, these tracks were selected solely on commercial appeal. Listen to them here and let Mr. Slater know that despite some people not being able to understand his artistic approach now, there are those lovers of innovation that appreciate his efforts. Also, if anyone finds that bootleg 7" contact me at

WARNING: Deeton Slater's songs contain highly graphic content and strong language. Listener discretion is advised.

Click here to go to the Singles Series page and listen to Deeton Slater

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Check 'em Out: Sleepy Chameleon

The latest band to set off our radars is the hip and happening Sleepy Chameleon. We're not yet sure if dance-friendly bands with animal names are this year's trend, but we can guarantee that this group's sounds are out of this world. Sleepy Chameleon's music lies somewhere between the DJ set for the club in a daydream and the ambient sounds played in an extraterrestrial day spa. While the first part of Sleepy Chameleon's name holds true - these songs are sure to put you into a peaceful trance - the band displays little in the way of shapeshifting soundscapes. This adherence to a somewhat set formula may work to the group's advantage, however. When acclaimed electropop group Fancy Guppy took a nervous step into the dank waters of horror folk with 2006's Backwoods Melodies, the response of the group's rabid fans (particularly those from New York City) was relentless. The most vile remarks were spat upon millions of blogs, restroom stalls, and library books despite mildly warm critical reception. At the same time, The Wild Freak-Outs have found much success (both commercially and critically) in their many ventures into other genres, especially with 2008's electric double LP Oh My Holy Pizza. Either way, hop on over to Sleepy Chameleon's SoundCloud page and let your brain do the hustle or get a massage from a Martian. No happy endings though.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fancy Guppy Gets Mean, Not Really

Just an amount of time ago, Fancy Guppy released a new space-age track from their upcoming EP, With Soul and Vile. "Four Eyes" is certainly the most bubbly of the bunch, with its rudimentary backbeat and playful keyboard melody. Add a mood-twisting, eyebrow-twitching ending and what you have is the makings of a possible album-opener. The latest news from the Gup is that these releases are instrumental versions of songs that will be appearing on the now highly-anticipated album. No word yet on which rappers will be making appearances, but you can be sure we'll be the first to know. You'll be the second or third we'll tell, too. Nab "Four Eyes" from the link below and feast your ears.

Click here to download "Four Eyes"

Fancy Guppy's With Soul and Vile out soon via Public Recods. Probably.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Breakfast In Song With Boy Cragoe

Monrovia's notoriously bearded balladeer, Will Cragoe, joined us in our studios this past Sunday to record what would become the next installment in our Monrovia Renaissance Singles Series. Though better known as the force of nature behind the controlled chaos of Sunscribe, the faithful renderings of Toma, and the brutal blues of Skip, Cragoe is also a noted acoustic doodler, delighting in compelling, intricate fingerpicking. For the first time ever released upon the ears of you, the discerning music listener, is a song Cragoe has been holding onto for quite some time. "The Optimistic Song," is deceptively titled in terms of subject matter, but the lyrics are well-crafted and witty. The sighs and subdued delivery make this as much excellent acting as it is suberb singing. The single's b-side was somewhat accidental, arising from a bit of spontaneous inspiration that certainly paid off. This performance of Devendra Banhart's "At the Hop" showcases Cragoe's aforementioned fingerpicking skills as well as a vocal delivery that is somehow soulful and easygoing at the same time. A kazoo-playing tramp managed to sneak past security and weasel his way onto the track (don't tell him we kept his bit in the mix). While we get our Research Department on the task of understanding what we just said, feel free to listen to the single, or download it to listen to it for all of eternity, or for all of your iPod's battery, whichever comes first. Also, be sure to look out for all kinds of stuff from all those bands we mentioned.

Click here to go to the Singles Series page and listen to Will Cragoe

Photo credits go to Matthew Vogel and Megan Stubbs.