West Coast Report: Far Out’s update from the United States // Week 2

A new weekly feature from Far Out Magazine see’s Timothy Mudd, our man in the States, give a monthly update from the West Coast.

Timothy’s feature will follow his move from place to place and spending his time in San Diego, LA and Seattle, he’ll stopping off at music venues along the way. Here, in his second episode, we follow him up the coast:

NOTES FROM THE WEST DESK

LIFE
I had the misfortune of spending a few days in Las Vegas recently.

Having navigated the surly repartee with a waiter at one of the crowded brunch choices available to Mandalay Bay guests, I noted the snotty bounce of Green Day’s ‘Basket Case’ gently floating across the mid-morning hangover with all the grace of a helicopter crash. Then it struck me: “How would the rebellious youth of the nineties have reacted to one of their marching anthems waking up and entertaining the subconscious patrons of the latest establishment from another *yawn* celebrity chef?” Indeed, I’m sure during it’s recording Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirt and Tre Cool didn’t high-five each other in the studio screaming, “You know what would sound great with this? Hash browns!” But then, the original wave of Green Day fans are likely managing joints like this now, so I applaud whatever it takes to get them and their alternative souls through the day—we’ve all got to get there somehow.

MUSIC
It’s the dog days of summer with most areas left of the Rockies hitting upward of 42° on any given day whether you like it or not. And trust me: baking heat gets old when you have to live it for longer than your annual two-week skin-fry and drinkathon.

A drought apparent not just in climate but in recorded output, many observers such as myself will take the opportunity to reflect on the year’s offerings and what’s already in the books. Or we could choose to dig a little deeper. Haley Bonar graces the world with her sixth release Impossible Dream. A hazy buzz, that ebbs and flows between anthemic riot-pop (Kismet Kill, Stupid Face, Called You Queen, Blue Diamonds Fall), and the Mazzy-jangle of your best downer fantasies (I Can Change, Jealous Girls, Skynz, Better Than Me). ‘Your Mom Is Right’ is a reverb-laden highlight; I don’t even know what Haley means to impart lyrically, nor do I want to, as the song feels equal parts comfort and threat.

Best served with a morning cocktail, slow-mo memories at sunset or alone longing for something—or someone—to help you make it through another lonely night… Just hopefully not your Mum.

Dinosaur Jr. are back with another trademark dive into their sonic ocean of distortion, classic-alternative slacker solos, pleading vocals and a rhythm section that sounds like a back alley ass-kicking.

There’s no mystery here—it’s J. Mascis and crew, presenting a solid continuation of their catalogue. Sit back and enjoy the beauty of sameness, or just admit that this is your best new summer driving record.

And how about Pylon? You remember Pylon, right? Oh lord. Pull up a chair… While the B52’s were the first to break the seal on Athens, Georgia as a hotbed of artistic intrigue in the late-70’s, and R.E.M. would become the cities most famous sons, Pylon were arguably the city’s favourite band and deepest influence on their emerging peers.

It’s like Christmas in July with the arrival of Pylon Live, a twenty song double album that not only captures the bass-heavy rhythms and idiosyncratic guitars, but may blow some dust from the musical treasure map to reveal one of it’s greatest lost jewels.

For my final mid-summer diamond, I’m going to take a risk. If you’d like to add some jazz to your frisky, don’t miss BadBadNotGood’s fourth release, creatively titled IV. This one’s your best bet for an expertly executed headphone listen that leaves no production trick in the bag.

Despite the odd foray into noodly muso excess that most jazz fans live for, you’d be cheating yourself if you didn’t take cuts such as Time Moves Slowly (feat. Samuel T. Herring) and In Your Eyes (feat. Charlotte Day Wilson for a joyride. The former sees the Canadian quartet reuniting for a second outing with the Future Islands leader for what is arguably one of the summer’s best slow burners.

Talking of slow burners, I’ll bet a relatively large sum on IV rearing it’s head on many year-end best-of lists, but that may just be the Vegas talking.

LIVE JAMS
Boss. Hog. Yes, the greedy, unethical commissioner of Hazzard county in the 80s television classic, Dukes of Hazzard; but also sporadic parallel side project of husband and wife punk blues wrecking crew Jon Spencer and Cristina Martinez (Pussy Galore, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion).

We caught them on the last night of a short west coast stint to promote the Brood Star EP, their first collection of new material in sixteen years.

No matter which musical incarnation he’s propelling, Spencer presides over each evening’s ceremony like a burned-out priest who just decided God is fantasy and anything could happen. Chaotic displays of dirty, sweaty, truth-telling, alter-cracking, primal instinct rock and fucking roll. That is until you add this mans wife into the equation and the spectacle turns from awesome to glorious. Spencer shape-shifts around Martinez, leading the band with the trademark crunch of his pawn-shop guitar, hypnotic stares and an almost jester-like revelry in the court of his Queen, who summons the crowd to rise up with her musical bidding. So many up-and-comers think it’s okay to just press play on their laptops and sing along to their bedroom hits—it’s refreshing to witness true veterans reminding us that for some, the art of musical entertainment isn’t just a choice—it’s a goddamn duty.

COMEDY
The west coast is one of the safest, most open-minded places in the U.S.A. currently (which is frankly how I live with myself) but there’s a lot of scary out there around this country, and I don’t mean the daily fecal salad of fear served up by network media and their “journalists”   I’m talking about the real fear of idiots who don’t spew crazy for-profit. The ones who are either ready to choose a reality TV star as President because they choose to or because they feel they don’t have a choice not to.

Trust me, there’s a choice, and one man knows this it’s Bill Maher. The oft-liberal, but general bullshit calling politically incorrect pundit is out there beating the drum for common sense whenever he’s not at home in L.A. for HBO’s Real Time. We caught up with him in Las Vegas at the Mirage where his one man Trump assassination diatribe is simply brilliant—and his damnation of his supporters similarly ruthless.

No one is safe, especially the Trump-drunk hecklers. You can catch-up Mr. Maher’s sharp wit and Donald baiting right here: youtube.com/realtime.

ART
There’s something about summer in the desert that inspires a thirst for Jay Farrar records and a hunger for road-tripping into the dustbowl of ‘Americana.’

As much as I’d like to, I still can’t seem to abandon taste and fling myself into the throng of modern country music; but luckily artists like Ed Ruscha ride to the rescue and lasso us from the edge of the ten gallon canyon, delivering the visual stimulus to see us through another day.

Rest your eyes on such classics as Standard Station, Amarillo, Texas (1963), Hollywood (1968), Coyote (1989), Noose Around Your Neck (2001), Desert Gravure (2006) and Dead End 2 (2014), to understand why this Nebraskan is nothing short of an American treasure. standard1024x1024Get a feel for the wild west of Ed Ruscha here: edruscha.com.

SITTING IN THE INBOX
Blondie’s spending the summer out west and Temple of the Dog are reuniting for a run of west coast shows—we’re going to see what we can do to make it extra special for you.

Stay thirsty y’all.

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