California is a tantalizing prospect. Held up as a promise land where leggy blondes out number palm trees and money flows like the Santa Ana, it teases us with golden dreams. In California the surf never breaks and the good times and cool vibes never end. Never.
With that in mind, two bands tied to the Golden State, spreading the gospel of good times and cool vibes, are set to convert skeptics into believers tonight at the Mesa Theater and Club. They are The Blank Tapes and Bad Weather California.
If you ran into Matt Adams on the street you’d pick up his vibe right away. By looks alone, The Blank Tapes mastermind and Orange County native is part Jeff Bridges’ “The Dude” and part David Wooderson, Matthew McConaughey’s iconic character from “Dazed and Confused.” Long sandy blond locks and a stately mustache frame up Adam’s tanned face. He’s a cool looking guy who could probably lead you to a chill spot to hang.
The similarities between Adams and these two slacker characters end at appearance. This guy knows how to work and he is serious about making music.
Adams plays everything: guitar, bass, drums, keys. With nearly 400 original songs, lyrics included, floating around in his head, he also has the talent and wherewithal to record and distribute his music. Adams is also a talented self promoter. He designs his own posters and album artwork and books his own tours.
The Blank Tapes latest album, “Sun’s Too Bright,” is a throwback to 1960s garage rock. Recorded to cassette tape by Adams, the album has a simple aim. Roll with a good groove and don’t screw it up. Cue up “Friday Afternoon,” a laid back instrumental jam that could loop forever. Close your eyes and feel the sun shining down on your face, the worries of the work day washing out with the tide. Those deadlines can wait til Monday, the weekend is here. Let’s hang.
If Adam’s is hosting this party, who better to invite than street level music hustlers, Bad Weather California? Though Chris Adolf can’t exactly remember how he came up with the name Bad Weather California, the band’s sound, especially on last year’s excellent album “Sunkissed,” is drenched in vintage Cali, psychedelic freakout vibes. My favorite track from the album, “Stand in My Sunshine,” has enough solar power to clear up the cloudiest of days.
Much like Adam’s, Bad Weather are dropping new material at tonight’s show. Expect new songs from the forthcoming “Fictional Life” to dominate their set. Based on the demo’s I’ve heard it sounds like Bad Weather are moving their sound in a slightly new direction. I can’t wait to hear what they come up with live.
This show caps off a great week of live music. The Blank Tapes and Bad Weather California are the fifth and sixth bands to make tour stops in the area before appearing at the Treefort Music Festival in Boise, Idaho later this March (Radiation City, Brainstorm, and Social Studies were the first three, playing at the Cavalcade in Fruita and Wooden Indian Burial Ground was the fourth playing at Casa Coyote, all last Wednesday).
The positive energy surrounding our music scene is radiant and I’m picking up good vibrations about tonight. It’s a good day to get caught in the Californication of western Colorado. Come get weird and wild at the Mesa Theater to The Blank Tapes and Bad Weather California and opening bands Dreamboat and Bronco Country.
Remember in "Ghostbusters" when Egon warned Ray and Venkman about crossing the streams? "Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light."
Social Studies' new album "Developer," is aptly named. One spin of the San Francisco band's latest single "Terracur" is enough to know why. The song starts off with Natalia Rogovin's voice and builds from there. A simple drum beat and guitar riff slowly follow and as the song develops you start to understand why this up and coming band is so popular.
On this album the band stuck with the basics and used simple methods to create layered songs. Using both instruments and emmotion, Social Studies make modern pop music with texture and mood.
"Before, we were rebellious," Rogovin says. "Developer is a more adult record. We tried to explore sounds and draw out parts to write more moving and focused songs."
Catch Social Studies tomorrow night at the Cavalcade in Fruita. They will be performing with Radiation City and Brainstorm. It's a show not to miss.
Hey, so this band Brainstorm is totally awesome. This three piece art pop band from Portland featuring a tuba (yes you read that right) makes really fun and interesting dance music. Combining African guitars, three part harmonies, and elements of soul, Brainstorm are a pretty unique experience. It's energetic, eclectic, and engaging.
Fresh from their performance at SXSW, Brainstorm will appear live, this Wednesday at the Cavalcade in Fruita with Radiation City and Social Studies. The more I learn about these three bands the more I think this is the show of the year. Download Brainstorm's "Beast in the Sky" below and be sure to check them out live.
What makes a band extraordinary are the details. With a quartet it can be difficult to get everyone on the same page. Five individuals on five instruments can sometimes sound like a noisy mess. Not with this band. Radiation City excels in minutia.
The spirit of Rad City lies behind a mess of blond hair and a pair of thick black rimmed glasses. Often
seen abusing a beautiful blonde Telecaster, this is Cameron Spies, songwriter and sometimes lead singer of the northwest outfit. Playing jazz pop, 1990s rock fusion guitar riffs, Spies’ gives the band its common character.
The soul of the band comes from a voice. This voice, the tone and range of power, is nothing short of brilliant. Hearing it on record is one thing, live it is spectacular. This voice, Elisabeth Ellison’s voice, is Rad City’s moral and emotional identity. Ellison, songwriter and sometimes lead singer, also plays keys, adding a layer of depth to Spies’ guitar work.
The heart of the band comes from the rhythm section, Matt Rafferty and Randy Bemrose. Not too many people notice the rhythm section of a band unless they are really, really bad or really, really good. Rafferty and Bemrose are the latter, gifted musicians that hold the band's sound together. The orchestrations of Spies and Ellison are focused by Rafferty bass lines and Bemrose’s drumming.
These four members alone would make Rad City the envy of musicians everywhere. There is, however, one more piece to the Rad City puzzle.
Not to be overlooked, adding texture to Rad City’s sound is multi instrumentalist Patti King. On keys, guitar, vocals, violin, and just about anything else that makes noise, King makes a lovely addition to the band. Her flourishes pop the songs to life and make this whole troupe one damn good band.
Rad City makes a point of playing thoughtful, restrained music. They are five individuals making one strong statement. Each section pieces together nicely, like patchwork. Fitting because listening to Rad City is like curling up in your favorite blanket.
Their sound is comforting and easy to fall into. As you sink into a song like “Find It Of Use,” with its multiple layers of synths and slow ringing guitars, a warming calm washes over your body. At this point you realize the band is not just quite good, but exceptional.
Pick any song from the band’s debut album, “The Hands That Take You,” and try not to fall in love.
“There is hope for us yet,” Ellison sings on “The Color of Industry,” the first song I heard from the band. Three seconds in and this one line of optimism is enough to make me. a hopeless romantic for good music, a believer.
Catch Radiation City with opening bands Brainstorm and Social Studies at the Cavalcade in Fruita this Wednesday, March 20. This is an all ages show and tickets are just the best $10 you’ve spent in your life.