WIRE "One Of Us"

Wire is playing in LA on October 14th at echoplex
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What We Do Is Secret: review


I got to watch this film a few times. The Germs was a legendary LA band, that was more like an idea, than a reality. Los Angeles doesn't really get its fair share of punk rock credit. People still think Punk was invented in London or NYC, but by 1979, LA had its own scene and a ton of bands. The Runaways was an early punk band if anyone was. Much of the LA rock scene then was still a glam retread. It took a few years for things to get really happening here. Not that any of the club owners wanted punk to take off. They thought punk was violent, and preferred cover bands. They would book a "punk" band, maybe some lightweights like The Dickies, and a few bottles would be broken. End of experiment. It's a miracle that The Germs got to play any shows at all.

So we have this movie. Shane West is great as Darby Crash. Not that I was close to the original, but I have known Don Bolles off and on since 1980. It mostly seems accurate. Darby Crash was said to be really smart. None of this is really shown in the movie. He seems more like a moron obsessed with Sid Vicious. Luckily Darby visited London and found out that people didn't listen to Sex Pistols anymore. But I remember there were a lot of kids who were obsessives and could quote Nietzsche and turn your world upside down. You know, guys who were fans of Charles Manson, and so on. So Darby seems to have a little low self-esteem issues. If this has to do with his family or closeted homosexuality, who knows?

We get to see the beginning of The Germs and The Masque. I remember the horror of hearing the Live at the Whisky album. Besides "Sugar, Sugar" that music was a chore to listen to. Eventually The Germs got better. In 1980, they could play very fast, and with Black Flag, probably inspired the whole hardcore thing. The Germs probably played 50 gigs or less in their whole early career, and never outside of LA. Most of the shows were uneven, and sometimes Darby was on drugs. Some people pretend that Darby was some incredible showman. But it was more a mystique than actual fact. That is why Shane West is such an improvement. You get a young Darby without the bad haircuts, drugs, and Bowie Fascination.

The Germs created some excitement in the LA scene which was mostly The Screamers and The Weirdos back then. There are a few scenes in the movie with The Damned. Why they got 40-year-old men to play them was odd? You have an actor playing Rodney Bingheimer, who seemed younger than the band. Back then, Rodney was like the oldest guy you ever saw at a gig. Darby gets more into drugs. Their managers suck. A bunch of vampires and leeches surround the band and feed them drugs. Sounds like these go-nowhere bands of today? Luckily they recorded an album, and better yet, were captured on film. Because it's not like The Germs was this awesome live band. The album still rocks today and they stole the show in the Decline movie. And Darby died.

Can you imagine a 50-year-old Darby Crash? Not me. We give Darby the benefit of the doubt, like we do Kurt Cobain and Elvis. People like Ian Curtis and Jeff Buckley were always considered interesting artists in their lifetimes, but once they died, the "genius" label got thrown around. I am not sure if Darby was a genius, but he created some interesting times to mull over. The records are there. In the movie, it seems sort of dark and depressing. I think of those times as being very fun and wild. Even his death didn't change anything. Life went on, and The Germs were a thing of history. They were a flash of light.

As a young teenager experiencing this, it seemed so care-free and light. Punk Rock did create a lot of false dreams and casualties. Darby was very provocative. He went to London and saw Adam and The Ants. He came back with a mohawk. It was before all the punk clones and uniforms. And I remember seeing Black Flag at the Starwood at the time. I must have seen 100 mohawks that night. That was the power of someone like Darby Crash.

The whole LA punk scene was a quick thing. By May 1980, you had thousands lining up to see PIL at the Olympic Auditorium. There were all these clubs in the sticks, like Godzillas. The Stern Brothers put on some bigger shows. The Ramones played some big shows. But in those years 1975-1980, everything was very underground, and witnessed by very few people. I, myself, only got to see the tail end of it. And by the time you are 21, do you really want to fight bouncers and police officers?

I am glad that a band like The Germs gets any attention. They, like Black Flag and Redd Kross, were more my age. Maybe a few years older. Many bands who always get mentioned, like X and Fear, were in their 30s by 1980. The Germs records stand up, and the others don't. They are playing at Sunset Junction this weekend so you should check them out.

--Alexander Laurence
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Downtown Artwalk playlist

Downtown Artwalk August 14th

I was at the temple, and Vee called me up. She wanted me to start at 8pm. I had to drive across town and there was traffic. I was in a rush, so couldn't pay attention to what was going on. It was the most people downtown I had seen. At 5th and Main the sidewalks were filled. I played records for almost 5 hours, so this list is going longer than usual. I saw a lot of new people in the club. It was at capacity so sorry if you couldn't get in.

Playlist August 14th, 2008

Daft Punk "Around The World"
New Order "Sub-Culture"
MGMT "Electric Feel Good"
The Ting Tings "We Started Nothing"
CSS "Pretend That We're Dead"
Crystal Castles "Crimewave"
Johnny Cash "Leave That Junk Alone" (Alabama 3 Remix)
The Jam "Beat Surrender"
Portishead "Plastic"
Sonic Youth "Silver Rocket"

Gorillaz "Clint Eastwood"
Generation X "Ready Steady Go"
Daft Punk "Technologic"
Hot Chip "Ready For The Floor'
The Rapture "Get Myself Into It"
Klaxons "It's Not Over Yet"
Annie "Chewing Gum"
Louis XIV "Finding Out True Love Is Blind"
Santogold "Creator"
Crystal Castles "Vanished"

The Duke Spirit "Send A Little Love Token"
Bowie "Golden Years"
Devo "Wiggly World"
Daft Punk "Robot Rock"
The B52s "52 Girls"
Get Get, Wear Cape Fly "D.A.N.C.E."
Jean Knight "Mr Big Stuff" (w/ Jay-Z "99 Problems")
Hot Chocolate "You Sexy Thing"
Bow Wow Wow "I Want Candy"
Soulwax "NY Lipps"

Roxy Music "Viginia Plain" (Headman remix)
LCD Soundsystem "Disco Infiltrator"
Junior Boys "In The Morning"
MIA "Paper Planes"
MGMT "Time To Pretend"
My Chemical Romance "Song 2"
Soulwax "E-Talking"
Supergrass "Diamond Hoo Ha"
Grace Jones "Pull Up To The Bumper"
Yaz "Dont Go"

Hot Chip "Over and Over"
Dandy Warhols "We Used To Be Friends" (Kenn Richards remix)
The Kills "Cheap and Cheerful"
The Ting Tings "Shut Up and Let Me Go"
Iggy and The Stooges "Shake Appeal"
Violent Femmes "Blister In The Sun"
LCD Soundsystem "Give It Up"
Interpol "Slow Hands" (Britt Daniels remix)
Raconteurs "Stone Bought Bones"
Soft Cell "Tainted Love"

Kim Wilde "Kids In America"
BRMC "Stop"
Arcade Fire "Rebellion Lies"
CSS "Alala"
Adult. "Nothing Of The Kind'
New Young Pony Club "The Bomb"
Bauhaus "Third Uncle"
Teddybears "Punkrocker"
We Are Scientists "Inaction"
Blur "Music Is My Radar"

The Strokes "Heart In A Cage"
Echo and The Bunnymen "Rescue"
Sinead O'Conner "Jerusalem"
Kasabian "Empire"
My Bloody Valentine "When You Sleep"
The Moldy Peaches "Who's Got The Crack"
Cheap Trick "Clock Strikes Ten"
Blondie "Atomic"
Gang Of Four "At Home He's A Tourist"
Lords Of The New Church "Russian Roulette"

The Black Angels "You In Color"
Wire "Outdoor Miner"
Wire "All Fours"
Burial "Ghost Hardware"
Renegade Soundwave "Transition"
Hecuba "Sir"
The Glove "Perfect Murder
Ian Dury "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick"
TV On The Radio "Wolf Like Me"
Singapore Sling "Song For The Spirit"

The Last Shadow Puppets "My Mistakes Were Made For You"
Dirty Pretty Things "Tired Of England"
Wire "Mekon Headman"
1990s "See You At The Lights"

+ more
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Alessi is a magical creature that lives in West London. I think of her as this unique eighteen-year-old girl who is very excited, very alert, and very open to the world of the imagination. The imagination is often associated with those strange dimensions created in childhood. For a young child, fantasy and reality seem to co-exist without contradiction, and shed light on each other. As we grow up we seem to leave this world behind, only to revisit it occasionally in song. Alessi's songs like "Constellations" and "The Horse" open up the door again to this beautiful world. Her songs are a new take on psychedelic folk music, very British, and a little like Syd Barrett, who was very childlike in his own way.

Alessi has taken a myriad of influences from art and music, and her own life, and formed something very original. In a very short time, Alessi has created her own signature sound. Her voice is very sensual and her idiosyncratic guitar playing is very simple. On writing her songs, Alessi says: "Usually words are born first. I try to remember them as much as possible and sometimes write a few things down. I leave the words to just exist for a little while and then I'll see if I can find anything on the guitar to help it grow."

Alessi has studied music for a while, playing several instruments. For many years playing drums. As for her own songs she settled on guitar: "I like playing the guitar, we're becoming better friends all the time. Apple and I." In no short time, Alessi has created a magical set of songs, from her bedroom. Her visual and sonic presentation is both innocent and worldly.

Alessi played about one hundred shows in the past two years. Several of these shows were at bookstores and unconventional places. She said of these early shows: "Listeners had to be quiet. I didn't have a pickup on my guitar then so I'd just hope a microphone or two would do the trick."

The reaction to her music has always been always positive. Alessi has definitely turned heads around. She has created fans with every show. Alessi gave a handmade CD with original artwork. At some point it was time to create a full album and expand her sound from those homemade demos. Alessi traveled to ARC studio in Omaha, Nebraska to work on her album with Mike Mogis who has worked with many bands on Saddle Creek. She said: "We started working on the record last August (2007) and with intervals here and there we've just finished it." That is good news.

Alessi has spent almost a year perfecting her album. There is a lot of down time in the studio. I often wondered about her hobbies. She offered: "Drawing and embroidering are two things that keep my hands busy and very happy." Alessi's mom, Lauren, has been knitting herself. She created knitted purses to put her CDs in. People are very lucky to have received one of these creations.

Sometimes Alessi seems to be living in some ancient world, from another time. I found out that she does use a computer and a cell phone. She told me: "Yes, I watch television. Not very often but when I do, it's with my family. We love laughing."

I can imagine her reading books in some old library. Alessi explained her reading habits: "Reading comes in waves. I've been reading quite a bit recently. Gig by Simon Armitage and A New Earth by Eckhart.... I've forgotten his last name. And new issues of The Curse. Your book too. Five Fingers Make A Fist by Alexander Laurence.

What is an average day like for Alessi? She is brief about the subject: "Sleep. Music. Hugs. Walking. 3 meals. Sometimes swimming." She leaves a lot to the imagination, which is good.

Alessi is someone you could see being a teacher or an artist. What does her family think about her decision to play music: "My family is beautiful and supportive. I think they like the songs'', she tells me.

After another month in Omaha to complete the record, Alessi plans to play several shows: "I'll be playing End of The Road in September 2008 and then a few shows around the UK with Peter and the Wolf" she adds. Hopefully we will see the release of her album later this year, or in early in 2009? This will be one the most anticipated albums, and we all look forward to it.

--Alexander Laurence

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