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.