From the grammatical joke in their name, it’s clear Let’s Eat Grandma, the brilliant up and coming English experimental pop duo, are into wordplay and have a mischievous sense of humor. (Titles include “Sax in the City,” “Chimpanzees in Canopies,” and “Eat Shiitake Mushrooms” [pronounce the 2nd word as two words..]. But it’s not all jokes. There’s a headiness to the music of Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth, well beyond their youthful years. Sterling production, tasteful electronic sounds and a certain seriousness of arrangement and the will to experiment offset any jokes and keep the listener a bit off balance and constantly interested.
Let’s Eat Grandma | letseatgrandma.co.uk
On what would have been the night before the canceled 2018 FYF Fest (see you next year?), Car Seat Headrest instead played the Wiltern, their largest L.A. headline to date, and an all around fantastic performance going far to help solidify their ascendance as one of our best young bands.
While it’s well documented that the band is the brainchild of mastermind Will Toledo, CHS is very much a proper band today. On the current tour the core live four piece–Toledo (in full frontman singer mode rocking the mic sans guitar all night), Seth Dalby (bass), Andrew Katz (drums and Subway sandwich giveaway–you had to be there) and Ethan Ives (lead guitar)–are expended into a big, loud and tight seven-piece unit by Seattle’s Naked Giants (Gianni Aiello, Henry LaVallee, Grant Mullen), who themselves opened the show with a thoroughly entertaining storming rock power trio set of their own.
In a welcome bit of respite from an increasingly noisy, mad world, young Icelandic composer/pianist Ólafur Arnalds performed his meditative piano-led modern ambient/classical instrumental work at Cathedral Sanctuary at Immanuel Presbyterian Church this past Friday evening. The sold-out show was his first in the city in five years, the iconic Gothic church serving as an apt venue for his delicate soundscapes, making good use of its vaulted ceiling and natural reverb. Now just over ten years into his solo career, he’s built a devoted audience in Los Angeles, their reverence evidenced by relatively little talking or camera phone usage, waiting until song breaks before entering and leaving the main room, and pausing until a song’s reverb tails completely extinguish until applauding.
On the brief eight-date North American tour, dubbed the “All Strings Attached” tour, he is augmented for the first time by an able string quartet as well a percussionist to bolster the sound as needed. An equally key component of the performance is his unique “Player Pianos” set up with three pianos on stage: sound from his primary baby grand is routed out through software to two self-playing upright pianos that interpret the input and randomly output notes which he then reacts to in real time. It’s telling that he is incorporating technology to induce an unpredictable, idiosyncratic element, rather than any mechanized perfection. These are tunes that breathe, that feel organic and alive.
Ólafur Arnalds | olafurarnalds.com
These are boom times for singer-songwriters, almost all of them ladies, young, wise beyond their years, armed with electric guitars and rafts of rich, personal, insightful, often moving lyrics. Enter Lucy Dacus, inching up to the front of the class with an engaging full band performance to a fairly packed Teragram Ballroom this past drizzly Thursday.
Backed tightly by able players–Sadie Powers, holding down a steady low end on the rare fretless electric bass; Jacob Blizzard, on tastefully effected atmospheric electric guitar; Ricardo Lagomasino, providing restraint and punch behind the drum kit–the Richmond 22-year-old presented Historian, her excellent new sophomore LP, with a large continuous chunk making up the first half of the set list.
Lucy Dacus | lucydacus.com
Bananarama, the iconic British female pop trio formed in the 80’s, performed at The Novo downtown this past Tuesday, their first show in Los Angeles since 1989, impossibly. (A comically curmudgeonly LA Times review of that gig at the Universal Amphitheater survives online; a live bootleg recording of that show, a nice curio artifact, recently turned up online.)
The occasion of the tour is the reunion of all three original band members–Sara Dallin, Keren Woodward and Siobhan Fahey, who left the group in ‘88, four albums in, on the cusp of their first tour. Fahey later went on to release music as Shakespeare’s Sister, while Dallin and Woodward have kept Bananarama continuously active as a duo over the years. Fahey came back into the fold for well-received U.K. shows last year and they look poised to repeat that with a quick jaunt of four U.S. dates. (A nice Guardian piece talking to the ladies on the occasion of their reunion last year is here.)
The house was packed with a fun, motley audience–middle aged suburban couples, old school KROQ heads (whose ex-DJ Richard Blade, a local legend, served as opening act, his recent autobiography conveniently available at the merch table), sprinklings of younger hipsters, and the expected strong gay contingent.
The three ladies, backed by an able four-piece band serving the songs well, worked through a winning, high energy greatest hits set…
Bananarama | bananarama.co.uk