Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sounds From the Little World

As sad as it can be to have a good friend go well out of reach, it makes it that much more exciting when that friend sends you a bit of their craft. Such is the case with the little demo we received from Monrovia's own musical knight-errant, Jee Wallis. Jee's wild spirit brought him infamy among the town's more traditionally-minded (some would say "closed-minded" or, better yet, "boring") musicians, his music as well as his onstage persona being like a raging beast refusing to be tamed. While his abrasive music may have been an acquired taste, an intense feeling of satisfaction always awaited the listener at the end. That same infamous, wild spirit recently carried Jee away from home, to the misty mysteries of San Francisco. Whether it was to provide inspiration or a more like-minded audience, Frisco would be the perfect place for Jee to temper his craft. What we did not expect, however, was what he sent us only a month after his arrival. Jee Wallis' most recent demo, titled "Daly City",  sees a radical change in his approach. The gentle acoustic strumming heard here washes over the listener like the waves of a nearby beach. Though the emotions may be different, peacefulness replacing discontent, the intensity remains. That same satisfaction greets the listener, and will very well greet more than before due to the new, welcoming sound. We can't say just yet where Jee's music will go from here, but it will be sure to please. For now, take in the soothing sounds of San Fran:

Click here to download "Daly City"

We'll keep you updated on any and all of Jee Wallis' goings-on.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Post-Teens With HEEPS Of Talent

Summer is just about over, and that means it's time to start packing away the sunshine melodies and bring out the sad stuff. Luckily, a new band has just the thing to slap a wistful look on that sunburnt face. The Heepers, made up of guitarist/vocalist Ethan Felding, Jr., bassist Lenora "Lenny" Walker, and drummer Cameron Culan, weave tales of woe sure to leave you with bittersweet longing. This should not be a surprise considering the band's history, however. Legend has it that Felding decided to start his new project the very morning after a catastrophic Valentine's Day left him without either a girlfriend or a band. His frustration fueled a flurry of songwriting, and he began taking his fledgling songs to coffee shops to help regain his confidence. A month later, he was noticed by Lenny Walker and Cameron Culan, who were on their way back from a trip to Santa Cruz when they stopped at Sierra Madre's Bean Town - just in time to catch Felding's performance. After the show, the two approached Felding and asked whether he was looking for a world-class rhythm section. "Or you could settle for us," quipped Walker. Soon enough, The Heepers were rocking every house, coffee shop, and garage that could hope to contain them. As for the name, none of the members are sure what it means. "We had a brainstorming session that turned into us just saying random sounds," recalls Felding. "Then out of nowhere we were all just saying 'heep!' over and over again. We must have gone crazy for a second." We're pretty crazy about The Heepers right now, so we invited Ethan Felding, Jr. over to our studios to cut a single. The first song is a new one for those who have been keeping up with the band, "My Pall Malls," which Felding is still in the process of writing. It features Felding's signature haunted narrator, this time leaving his presumed lover under unknown circumstances. The B-side is a cover of Beat Happening's "I've Lost You" that works lyrically as a continuation of the story. Head on over to the Singles Series page and get ready for some depressing goodness.

Click here to go to the Singles Series page and listen to The Heepers

Be sure to keep a keen eye out for shows and recordings from The Heepers (they don't have any websites yet).

Friday, September 2, 2011

Into the Planisphere: The Tale of Freak Funk

You cannot call yourself a true Monrovian if you have not heard the wild, infectious rhythms of the genre taking our beautiful city by storm: freak funk. For several years now, our young ne'er-do-wells have been feeding rock and roll to the dog to make room for an exciting, imaginative dessert. Freak funk began with The Star-Town Troubadours, one of the most famous bands to flourish in the Monrovia musical underground. Their approach was simple: take the rhythm section of funk, which almost dares listeners not to flex their groove muscles, and add to it the eccentric experimentation of psychedelia. The effect is something that excites both band and audience, which in turn creates more excitement. As uncomplicated as this combination may seem, there could be no denying its success. The Star-Town Troubadours had a top-selling album with their 2002 debut, Our Sunday Clothes. Soon enough, other artists were taking on the approach as well as adding their own personal flair. A small psych-pop outfit called Little Yogurt had found only moderate success until they teamed up with a rebellious young man from Finland who had a dual passion for James Brown and Sun Ra. After their legendary two-month "pure magic nonstop jam," Herb Bombgarden and the Little Yogurts (pictured) took the stage in the summer of 2009 to deliver one of the most dynamic concerts in Monrovia history, reinterpreting funk standards in their own hyperactive image. Sharing the stage that night were fellow legends Time Machine Modulus, who have since rejected being labeled as a freak funk band. Yet they need not be so defensive. There are currently hundreds of garage bands keeping the genre alive, some of whom, like The Wild Freak-Outs, Atomic Giants, and Boog, have worked tirelessly to expand on their forefathers' truly revolutionary visions. While this may just be a fad about to fade, it's an amazing ride for all who dare to explore the outer reaches of music.