Saturday, March 24, 2012

Finally, from the King of Trash Pop

Nearly a decade into his ambitious project Dance America Dance, Monrovia's musical mad scientist Desmond Thesman, 25, has finally let slip a bit of his progress. The title track, featured here, is not strictly new. Though this is the first time it's been released, the song was among the first Thesman conceived when he began planning his genre-bending assessment of the state of music in 2003. Since then, Thesman - who has referred to himself as King Dez, King Thez, The sMan, and other permutations of his name - has devoted nearly all of his time to creating what he promises is not just a pop masterpiece, but "the pop masterpiece." Dance America Dance is to be a quadruple album that deconstructs the last 80 years of American popular music and reimagines it through his vaguely dancey, trash pop lens. His endless devotion to the Dance project has become a source of constant worry for his family and friends, however. "There were several nights when... he simply did not sleep," says mother Bethany. "He developed a serious caffeine addiction [and] when he got withdrawals it was terrifying." Eugene, a friend of Desmond's, recalls a particularly low point during which Thesman rode his bicycle naked around Library Park. "Even after all these years he's locked himself away," says Eugene, "he's still the best cycler around. The cops couldn't catch him for days." There was also the issue of recording. If Thesman was unhappy with any part of a recording, he simply destroyed it and began again, a practice that eventually led to an astronomical sum spent on cassettes. Despite these difficulties, Thesman was able to send us this song as proof of his progress. The artwork, of course, is the same that was released in 2008 much in the same spirit, though we're still unsure whether this is the definite cover for the album. What is certain is the engaging nature of this song. "Dance America Dance" is most likely a take on the disco era, though from another universe where disco groups recorded strictly onto cassette, and it invites one in to search among its contents for hidden treasures. This is too broad a work to reduce it to one description, thus we will leave it up to you to analyze in the comments. Get ready to enter another dimension:

Catch Desmond Thesman this César Chávez Day at the Brass Elephant's Banquet Hall at 8PM. We'll keep you in the know on any new developments on Dance America Dance.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fresh Sounds: Jared Valenzuela's "Sleepless Nights"

Winter seems to have just woken up and grabbed its coffee, and yet some are already anxious for summer to amble over once again (though The Heepers probably aren't among them). This seems to be the sentiment behind the new track "Sleepless Nights" from six-stringer Jared Valenzuela. A supporting member of his previous band Toma, which was a crowd favorite at the most recent Monrovia High Battle of the Bands, Valenzuela shows here that he is just as comfortable taking the spotlight alone, weaving layers of guitar into beautifully emotional soundscapes. His latest is a tender track that evokes a sense of nostalgia for the peace that follows a fun summer day spent at the beach. Much like the sound of waves that bookends it, the song has amazing soul-soothing powers. Together with Jee Wallis, this may be the start of a new era in Monrovia folk. Start applying your sunscreen now:

As always, we'll keep you up to date on any new developments.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Monrovia Nightlife: Mystery Alley

For the crowd that filled a nook of apartment buildings deep in the heart of Monrovia on the 4th of February, the night was nothing short of pure, unfiltered joy. Those gathered had the great fortune of being a part of what could be described as a "life-changing experience" or "really cool." This was the second performance by the presently-titled Mystery Alley, a collective that may prove to be the hottest band of 2012. At the core of Mystery Alley is the ferocious trio of local legend/guitarist Will Cragoe, amateur astronomer/bassist Maximo, and fish expert/drummer Jonathan Hastings. These three craft meticulous modernist-pop masterpieces that take the audience on a tour of the emotional spectrum, often within a single song. Also of note is the band's strict professionalism, rigorous training schedule, and low-carb dieting. For all its perfectionism, Mystery Alley has so far at each of its shows collaborated with spontaneous performance artists: a mysterious noise-slinger named Danny whose postmodern style of guitar playing provides a startling counterpoint to that of Mr. Cragoe, and an unknown character who performs tape collages and tone poems from somewhere behind the band. This tension only adds to the already-enormous amount of excitement the band generates in its witnesses. There are more shows soon to come, so make it a priority to catch them at least once, if not twice. The band has also informed the Monrovia Renaissance that a demo is in the final stages of production and will soon be released; rest assured, we'll bring it to you as soon as it leaks.