Friday, March 31, 2006

trespassers william; quiet fury

trespassers william is that rare band, like the Cocteau Twins and Sigur Ros, able to stir the air with a mix of emotive vocals, effects-drenched guitar work and artistic attention to using a evocative mix of spacious sounds to enhance intricate melodies.

It’s a recipe best heard to appreciate, and that’s exactly what an increasing number of listeners are doing. Sigur Ros’ latest effort “Takk…” was truly one of the best albums of 2005 and has earned the Icelandic outfit a featured slot at the upcoming Coachella Music Festival next month, and now Orange County-spawned trespassers william has matched that style of brilliance on its third full-length effort, “having”(released Feb. 28, 2006). Among the best songs on trespassers williams’ “having” are the remarkable “safe, sound,” melodic “my hands up,” sparse “no one” and haunting “low point.”
The disc closes with “matching weight,” an ambitious song that builds and immerses the listener in layers of sound including for the last six or so minutes when notes both dissonant and beautiful dance a sonic ballet together outside the confines of any traditional structure.

“Mostly it was just a change of pace. We had done some touring up here and we had started to fall in love with the area,” said guitarist-keyboardist Matt Brown of the group’s decision to relocate to Seattle inJanuary 2005. I interviewed him by phone earlier this month.
“We were all scattered throughout Southern California– in L.A., Long Beach and Orange County and all over the place – it was taking an hour and a half to get to rehearsal. It was getting kind of complicated and we didn’t necessarily all want to move to L.A. and Seattle was a city we all kind of agreed we could be central at that had a really great music scene and was beautiful,” Brown explained. In addition to Brown, trespassers william alsoincludes singer-guitarist Anna-Lynne Williams and bassist-keyboardist Ross Simonini. Long-time drummerJamie Williams recently left the group; drummer Nathan Skolrud will be playing for the group when they tour this spring. The tour will include a number ofSouthern California dates, including a homecoming show at the Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa on Thursday, April 20.

Completing “having” was remarkably easy, despite the fact that it marked the first time in the 10-year-old troupe’s career they chose to include an outside producer in the process.
“We pretty much did everything by our selves except when we went to Buffalo (Tarbox Road Studios) to mix it. Dave Fridmann has such a distinct style that even though he just mixed it; he is credited with co-production because of the arrangements – some he totally flipped on their heads. Some he left intact,”Brown recalled. “So it’s really probably the most of both (working alone, and collaborating with someone outside of theband); we’ve kind of been self-produced before but we’ve also had to sneak into the studio when we had a few free hours. So this is the first time we’ve actually had a big chunk of time to really make a record.”

The results are stunning and fans of artful otherworldly rock are lavishing “having” with praise.

“The record (‘having’) actually happened really fast. ‘Different Stars’ we did at the studio where I used to work at in Orange County (Sonikwire Studios in Irvine)– those guys were nice enough if there was free time to drag everyone, that’s why it took so long,” Brown said. “And then ‘having’ took so long, (but) not because we didn’t have the songs. ‘Different Stars’ got picked up by Bella Union first and then we did touring and then it got picked up by Nettwerk and all of these things just happened one after another, we did a lot of the writing at our rehearsal space in Santa Ana and at the end of last year, October to December (of 2004) a lot of the arranging and then pretty much over the course of just one month did all of the recording (in January2005). And then we did a couple of weeks here and a touch up at home and then about nine days of mixing with Dave and then we sat on it for awhile waiting forit to get mastered just because of label release dates and all that…”

And because of modern technology, fans going to see the band will hear trespassers william with the kind of expansive sound featured on record, a clear departure from the band’s semi-acoustic early live shows.
“Actually, it’s more like the records than it has been,” said Brown.“We have a set-up where there is a keyboard and synth-bass, and then like a little desk with a mixer and some effects…it’s probably more electric than acoustic these days.”

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Catching up

Okay, okay. I don't post enough. Sorry!

But I've been busy listening and writing. You can read my Laurence Juber preview story in today's edition of the Orange County Register's Dana Point News. The legendary guitarist, who was with Paul McCartney's Wings from 1978 until 1981, is an amazing fingerstyle guitarist. He plays in Dana Point on Friday, March 24 and in Mission Viego on Sunday, March 26.

Also, make sure to catch up with my weekly Orange Pop column that runs on Fridays in the Show section of the OC Register. I featured Handsome Devil last Friday (March 17th) and I review a trio of local debuts in my column that runs tomorrow (March 24).

I'll check in with you again later today or tomorrow. Promise!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Rock Hall fall; does anyone care?

I saw today on all the reporting from the 21st annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction dinner, held on March 13 (I can't say I'm sorry I missed it; I was watching a great new episode of "24").

Looking over the list of so-called rock icons and those inducted, I have to honestly say "Who cares?" Black Sabbath didn't perform; Ozzy Osbourne is burned out and should just fade away. Apparently, whenever he was asked a question in the press room, he apparently couldn't really hear very well and didn't say anything very insightful. Kind of like that stupid MTV show he did a few years ago that I couldn't stomach.

When it came to the Sex Pistols, they didn't even show up.

Blondie was kind of bizarre, with apparently some of the various members not getting along anymore. I wouldn't have cared 25 years ago and I still don't care. Especially when a band is celebrated for such disposable fluff as "Call Me" and "Rapture." I would much rather have seen the Cars (the most successful American new wave band of the late 1970s) or the Smithereens (they released their debut "Girls About Town" in 1980) get in there.

I'm torn about Lynyrd Skynyrd. I guess they deserve to get in. I just don't hear their music and think it belongs in the company of U2, the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Queen. It's like bands such as ZZ Top, Billy Joel and Aerosmith - they are pretty good (and commercially successful) bands but shouldn't the Hall be reserved for the best of the best in terms of artistry? I guess in an age where we can't give any child a failing grade because it might hurt their self esteem, that's what we're left with...

Miles Davis was a great jazz musician. Very deserving of many accolades. But until rockers such as Hall & Oates, the Cure, Badfinger and Cheap Trick get in, why is the Rock Hall worrying about jazz players? I don't get it...

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Catch-up time

I have not been posting lately. Sorry.

I have been listening to music, writing my weekly columns for the OC Register and all that stuff, but nothing significant has compelled me to put down anything here as of late. So I just wanted to check in, say "hello" to you and share a non-music related item here.

I read today that NASA is honoring Walter Cronkite with an actual moon rock. I have a story about Walter Cronkite to share with you. In spring of 2004, I went to Orlando, Florida to attend a communications conference. While on my way back to Orange County, California, at the Orlando airport and waiting for the security check, right next to me in a wheelchair being wheeled by several airport/security persons was legendary CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite. Everyone in line pretty much recognizes him and is pointing at him, etc. Although he has difficulty moving (he was in his late 80s two years ago), security makes him take off his shoes and checks him out as if he might be a terrorist. Is this junk silly or not? How many of the terrorist attacks in America, Israel, Iraq and everywhere Islamic facists are targeting innocents have been carried out by retired American newscasters?

I understand NASA is giving Cronkite, who is now around 90, a piece of the moon in rcognition of his decades of covering the space program. Our society should be going after the real terrorists, checking people coming from places such as Saudi Arabia and Yemen and making sure we know where all those people are.