How to Dress Well’s “Repeat Pleasure” (Part 1 of 3 “What Is This Heart?” trilogy) (Official Video)

Tom Krell p/k/a How To Dress Well.
Tom Krell p/k/a How To Dress Well.

I’m a fan of Tom Krell’s music. Performing under the stage name “How To Dress Well”, his music has always has always resonated a sadness or longing in me. Whether its his airy falsetto, or the generally dark lyrical topics of his compositions, his music always makes me want to lay on a coach and contemplate life, love, at other personal topics.

When I saw him perform at The Roxy earlier this year, Tom performed “Repeat Pleasure” and noted it was a song about controlling emotions even though you know that “if you do something once, you’ll probably do it again”. He also noted that it was perhaps the most “poppy” songs he had had ever written.

That being said, I suppose one would have expected a music video with an airier, light hearted mood, but I think if that had been done, it would have been so out of character for Tom, his fans, myself included, would have said, “Huh?”

Tom’s music video for “Repeat Pleasure”, which is apparently part 1 of the “What Is This Heart?” (the name of his forthcoming album) trilogy, will pull on your heartstrings. It seems to tell the story of a young man who’s grandfather is gravely ill, and his efforts to take him somewhere familiar before passing. The video is appropriately “How To Dress Well”, and I fully appreciate Tom’s creative vision for his music.

HAIM | Coachella | 4/11/14 (PHOTOS)

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My guilty pleasure? Wholesome pop-rock that sounds like it could have come from the mid to late 80s. That’s why I decided to check out HAIM’s set at Coachella. Having heard a lot about their music, I’ve been wanting to purchase their debut LP “Days Are Gone” for a while now, only to resist the temptation because it seemed like every time I was at the record store, there were girls half my age hanging out by that section of the record rack.

Early technical difficulties aside, their set exhibited a clean, upbeat rock-pop sound. They also spent a good 5 minutes doing what I believe was an impromptu jam which flexed their chops as musicians that could shred with the best of them. That earned my respect.

I was impressed, and I certainly wouldn’t mind catching them perform in a more intimate venue at some point in the future. I guess I’ll just have to suck up my machismo for now, pick up the album the next time I’m out buying records.

HAIM Setlist Coachella Festival 2014 2014, Days Are Gone

Note: Let Me Go was on the setlist, but wasn’t played due to time constraints

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT BLOG ENTRIES OF OTHER BANDS I SAW AT COACHELLA!

Thruster! | El Cid | 1/31/14

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I was already excited to watch Atomic Ape do their thing at El Cid, but when Jason Schimmel messaged me that the band performing after them would blow my mind, my curiosity got piqued. I typically take statements like that with a grain of salt, but knowing how extraordinarily talented a musician Jason is, coming from him, that statement carried with it a lot more weight. A week before the date of the gig, I started my google research.  

From allmusic.comTim Young is one of the most creative guitarists out there. Best known for his work with Wayne Horvitz and Zony Mash, he’s been creating a very original style with his mastery of tone and effects and the near-complete absence of clichéd guitar licks. Thruster is his power trio project with bass player Kaveh Rastegar and ubiquitous Seattle drummer Matt Chamberlain […] Guitar fans will surely be impressed, but this is an album worth checking out for anyone interested in good instrumental rock.”

The more research I did, the more the musical dweeb inside of my brain started to squeal. Matt Chamberlain has worked, or toured, with Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, Pearl Jam, Tori Amos, Morrissey, Fiona Apple, David Bowie, Elton John, Peter Gabriel, John Mayer, and the list goes on. Kaveh Rastegar is a founding member of the Grammy nominated new music quintet Kneebody and has worked with, or written for, Cee Lo Green, Bruno Mars, Sam Sparro, Antibalas Afro Beat Orchestra, Joshua Radin, and the list goes on. Timothy Young has performed with, recorded with and/or produced the following artists: Beck, Rufus Wainwright, Belinda Carlisle, Dave Palmer, Fiona Apple, Nikka Costa, Lucy Woodward, Mike Patton, Stan Getz, Sophie B. Hawkins, and, again, the list goes on.

Thruster!’s performance, like their resume, did not dissappoint. Like a well oiled machine, the band performed a set that any lover of rock and roll would have appreciated. Tim’s superb lead guitar playing skills was mesmerizing accompanied by Matt’s succinct rhythms and Kaveh’s steady bass. Jason Schimmel joined them for a song which only added another layer to their already full sound. May favorite jam from their set is at the 5:26 mark of the video below. It’s so hard, dirty and uplifting at the same time, I couldn’t help but make a stink face throughout it.

It seems to me that these guys don’t necessarily get to play together on a regular basis due to their being in high demand for other gigs, so being able to catch their artistry as a collective live was a special treat that I’m glad I got to be a part of.

Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not currently available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos.

Atomic Ape | El Cid | 1/31/14

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What do you get when you combine progressive rock, Balkan folk, Klezmer jazz and surf rock? Atomic Ape.

Formerly known as Orange Tulip Conspiracy, the 5 piece band led by Jason Schimmel performed a gig at El Cid on January 31, 2014 to celebrate the release of their latest album, “Swarm”. The intimate venue was packed (capacity 104), and those that were in attendance were treated to a musical barrage of styles and musicianship that is, in my opinion, both unique and unparalleled.

If you’re looking for simple, pop tunes, you should move on. If Atomic Ape’s music is anything, it is definitely not simple. The compositions and arrangements crafted by Jason Schimmel (who has previously played for Estradashere and still occasionally with Secret Chiefs 3) are about as masterfully complex as they come, as evidenced during their live performance with seamless transitions into different rhythms, themes, and styles within any particular composition.

But however complex the music may be, it is all still accessible, as long as you are willing to let the music engulf you. I was consistently amazed with the ways in which the band melded the aforementioned styles to create a sound wholly their own. Not only that, but each player was given time to shine with stand-out moments to demonstrate their individual musical chops. Guitarist Tim Young, who played next with Thruster!, and accordionist Max Wipple, each joined Atomic Ape on stage for a song or two.

Ingenious music like this doesn’t come around very often. If you missed out on their recent tour, I highly suggest picking up a copy of their latest album (which, I may add is superbly produced and mixed) to hold you over until they perform in your neck of the woods.

Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not currently available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos.

Nik Kai | 12 Year Old Guitar Prodigy | The Future of Shredding

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In my youth, my mother made me take violin and piano lessons.  She always emphasized the maxim “practice makes perfect”, but even after over a decade of piano lessons, I don’t think I ever got close to any kind of perfection. Sure, I practiced … but I think I may been lacking the gene that made me want to get better.

I’ve always been amazed with kids who seem to be driven to push themselves (without being forced to do it) to get better. Whether its in sports, music, etc., some kids find their passion early in life and they seem to have the kind of innate drive and talent to get better.

About a year ago, a buddy of mine, Steve Miller told me about an 11 year old guitarist named Nik Kai he was helping out.  Recently, he told me that Nik was playing with a new band that had been assembled called Kemikal Kill after meeting at the recentNAMM Show, and suggested that I swing by the The Roxy on 3/25/13 to have a listen.  I’ve always supported Steve’s projects, so I did the 40 minute trek to the heart of Sunset to check it out.

Wow.

The band was young and capable, but the whole time I was there I was in awe of Nik. This 12 year old has some serious chops.  After the set, I was introduced to his mother, and I asked her about how Nik got so good on the axe.  She said that he wakes up everyday at 4am (on his own) to practice, and that he’s always interested in new types of music. She even mentioned that he was starting violin lessons.

I don’t know.  I’m sure all the practicing has played a part in Nik being so good at such a young age, and I love my mom and all, but I’m more inclined to say that this kid just has the music in him, and not everybody has that.

Here are two short clips of Nik playing with Kemikal Kill:

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