Friday, October 4, 2013



Temecula, CA – Occupy LA gave me the ability to compare the T-town talents that I have seen for 
years against the world marketplace that is LA. True, there are a ton of bands but not many like the locals around here. However I did see a couple of bands that I would say reminded me of the cutting edge music around here. On Friday night at First Unitarian Church - Los Angeles, 2936 W 8th St, 90005, I will see Trevor Powers, whose stage name is Youth Lagoon.

He began his music career by writing his debut album The Year of Hibernation in 2010.  Based around the idea of psychological dysphoria, Powers tried to document the trails of his mind through songs of minimalism and hypnotic ambience.  Powers later described his writing process as "my mind communicating with me, not the other way can take me to scary places but I've realized those bizarre thoughts I have don't define me."  After signing with Mississippi-based label Fat Possum Records in 2011, he toured much of the following year before going back into solitude to write.

Wondrous Bughouse, Powers' sophomore album out March 5 worldwide via Fat Possum Records, was spawned from what he describes as "becoming more fascinated with the human psyche and where the spiritual meets the physical world."  During the time he wrote, Powers became intrigued with the metaphysical universe and blending those ideas with pop music.

"Youth Lagoon is something so personal to me because writing music is how I sort my thoughts, as well as where I transfer my fears," explains Powers.

"My mental state is usually pretty sporadic...a lot of this record was influenced by a fear of mortality but embracing it at the same time.  Realizing that human life is only great because it is temporary.  Experimenting with ideas about dimensions.  I'm not a gifted speaker, so explaining things is difficult for me.  But music always makes sense."
With Youth Lagoon on tour is Pure X who also has a release out.

Crawling Up The Stairs is the second LP from Austin, Texas' Pure X. Made up of principal members Nate Grace, Jesse Jenkins and Austin Youngblood, they stay true to the dense sound they explored on their last album, Pleasure, but add twinkling atmospherics and a new clarity to their carefully cultivated, emotionally heavy songs.

Where Pleasure was built on syrup-slow hooks and a weighty, sexy haze, Crawling Up The Stairs is the sound of Pure X emerging from that humid cocoon to stare at all the screwed up parts of life directly in the face and embrace them. When Grace's voice, cracked and worn, breaks through a fog of down tempo drums and misty guitar on "Someone Else," the pain that used to be visible in his face when he was on stage is pushed to the forefront of their sound, his voice growling and moaning with barely contained anger and apocalyptic worry in anguished falsetto. Crawling isn't a record about escape, it's about what you do after you've realized that escaping isn't an option and you just have to face the world you live in head on.

Crawling Up The Stairs is an album born from emotional turmoil. For much of 2012, Grace was laid up with a serious leg injury. During the recording period, he had no insurance, no money, and if he ever was going to walk again, he needed to have surgery. Grace had no idea if he'd get the money together, and was consumed with doubt, unable to sleep. After a cathartic but torturous night of insomnia, heavy with world-worry and intermittent nightmares, Grace emerged feeling exhausted and different. Not better or worse, but different. Ready to heal. Crawling is the result of that. Track by track, Grace, Youngblood and Jenkins—who shares vocal and songwriting duties—drag themselves through a bad year.

As Grace was wrestling with his own demons, Jenkins' was figuring things out as well. On the gorgeous "Thousand Year Old Child," his falsetto hangs over unusually upbeat drum work from Youngblood and perfectly placed synth wines. It's a tricky song—relaxed and happy on the surface, but lyrically, Jenkins is wrestling with getting older and being uncertain about his future, singing, "there is no reason/ to think about time/ sometimes I feel/ I feel like a thousand year old child." A little later, the kicker comes: "up in the morning/ sleep at night/ there is a question/ what am I doing with my life?" It's a universal feeling rendered personal by Jenkins' heartbreakingly spare lyrics.

But Crawling isn't entirely dark. Album closer "All of the Future (All of the Past)" is the record's most optimistic song. As if Grace, Jenkins and Youngblood have finally emerged from an endless parade of bummer moments with newly optimistic perspectives on life. Grace's guitar glistens and glides across Jenkins' thick bass work and Youngblood's expertly controlled drums, but it's Grace's lyrics that end up laying everything out, making clear that there's a redemptive narrative in this record worth coming back to: "I can see the light/just got to stay alive," Grace sings. It might read as desperate, but Grace, for the first time, sounds confident that they'll make it no matter what.

Youth Lagoon:

09-05 Portland, OR - MFNW @ Pioneer Courthouse Square
09-06 Seattle, WA - Neumo’s
09-07 Missoula, MT - Monk’s Bar
09-09 Boulder, CO - Fox Theater *
09-10 Omaha, NE - Waiting Room *
09-11 Chicago, IL - Lincoln Hall *
09-12 Milwaukee, WI - Pabst Theater *
09-14 Detroit, MI - Laneway Festival
09-16 Washington, D.C. - 9:30 Club *
09-17 Cambridge, MA - The Sinclair *
09-19 New York, NY - Le Poisson Rouge *
09-20 Pittsburgh, PA - Mr. Small’s *
09-21 Cleveland, OH - Grog Shop *
09-22 Lexington, KY - Boomslang Festival
09-24 St. Louis, MO - Plush *
09-25 Columbia, MO - Mojo’s *
09-26 Indianapolis, IN - Deluxe *
09-27 Cincinnati, OH - Midpoint Music Festival
09-28 Champaign, IL - Pygmalion Festival
09-29 Kansas City, MO - Record Bar *
10-02 Phoenix, AZ - Crescent Ballroom *
10-03 Santa Ana, CA - The Observatory *
10-04 Los Angeles, CA - First Unitarian Church, Los Angeles *
10-31 Dublin, Ireland - Whelans
11-01 London, England - Islington Assembly Rooms
11-02 Paris, France - Pitchfork Festival
11-05 Tel Aviv, Israel - Barby
11-07 Barcelona, Spain - Razz 2
11-08 San Sebastian, Spain - Iglesia de Zorroaga
11-09 Madrid, Spain - But
11-10 Santiago, Spain - Capitol
11-12 Orleans, France - Astrolabe
11-13 Strasbourg, France - Laiterie
11-14 Fribourg, Switzerland - Fri-Son
11-15 Berlin, Germany - Prince Charles
11-17 Oslo, Norway - Parkteatret
11-18 Stockholm, Sweden - Debaser Medis
11-19 Gothenburg, Sweden - Pustervik
11-20 Copenhagen, Denmark - Pumpehuset
11-23 Utrecht, Holland - Tivoli
11-24 Brussels, Belgium - Botanique-Orangerie     

* with Pure X

And another photo shoot with the 420Nurses back at the Green Pearl in Pacoima. 

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