23 December 2011

Lies, Truth, Redemption: A Christmas Story from Pet Bear Sounds


Lies, Truth, Redemption. Those are the themes of this Christmas story today:

1. Lies:
I'm pretty proud of these songs and it was nice hallmark of 2009 and I'm happy to say that I don't cringe when I listen to these songs in 2010. I'm especially pleased with the way that my original song turned out. Also, no cringing on subsequent listens.
{PetBearSounds.com - 25 December 2010}

2. Truth:

Okay, the truth is I was lying to myself. Lying to everyone. Those Christmas cover songs I released in 2009 weren't bad but they weren't good either. But there were certainly a lot of cringe-worthy moments on subsequent listens.

Chalk it up to inexperience, hubris, whatever. While I'm proud of the arrangements, the performances and the direction and vision of the tracks, there was a lot more to be desired.


3. Redemption:

Here comes the Great Redemption of 2011.

The songs were essentially remastered: All the tracks were balanced nicely, cleaned up, smoothed out, jazzed up. I'll leave out all the boring details. Basically, they sound a lot better and this time - no lies - far less cringe-worthy.

And as a part of the Great Redemption of 2011, I also recorded a new cover: "White Christmas." That song has to be one of my very favorite Christmas songs. Ever. (Or in the Kanye West voice "of ALL time!!").

Christmas EP (2011 Remaster) by petbearsounds
{Note: "December Song" is an original track by yours truly.}

So, there it is. The lies. The truth. And the redemption.

Hope you enjoyed the songs (feel free to download and share with family, friends, and wandering minstrels), Happy Holidays from Pet Bear Sounds and have a Merry New Year!

{ N.B. My Top Albums of 2011 list is coming next week! }

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10 October 2011

OK Rainbows: Radiohead's Super Album


Radiohead released In Rainbows on the tenth day of the tenth month of the year. Ten years before In Rainbows, the English rock band unleashed OK Computer to the world.

OK Computer's working title was Ones and Zeroes. Do you see the one and the zero (or the 10, if you will) in the In Rainbows album cover?

Both album titles have 10 letters.

See where we're going with this?

04 October 2011

Birthday: M. Ward


Oh, hey, happy birthday to one of my favorite singer-songwriters, M. Ward!


Now quit doing She & Him stuff and release another record thanks!

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22 September 2011

Do Your Ears A Favor: Two Door Cinema Club - "What You Know"



Your ears have probably been filled up with a lot of nonsense lately so why don't you do your poor ears a favor a listen to something good?

How about some nice, friendly, up-beat, indie-electrorock?

Well, then you have Two Door Cinema Club.

They're playing the Wiltern tonight (it's sold out) so if you have tickets and have never seen them live, you're in for a treat. Back in November 2010 I saw them at the Music Box (Henry Fonda) and again at Coachella this year.

In a day and age where fame seems to come and go so quickly, it's fascinating to see a small band from Northern Ireland make a steady progression in their musical career.

Two Door Cinema Club released their debut - Tourist History - in early 2010 and by November of 2010 they were touring America and filling up the roughly 1,300 person Music Box in Los Angeles. In April of 2011, they drew one of the biggest crowds at Coachella and played to an overflowing Mojave Tent.


{Two Door Cinema Club - "What You Know" at Coachella 2011}

Quite a progression for these kids from Northern Ireland. Tonight they've sold out the Wiltern and will be playing to approximately 2,000 or more souls.

Why is this group so good?

Well, truth be told, they're a bit of a "safe" band. They're not edgy, their style isn't shocking, their sound is relatively straight-forward. But they are real and that's what endears me to this band. Their record isn't overproduced, the lyrics aren't sappy, the vocals aren't whiny, the music is crisp and upbeat.

Tourist History doesn't hide any shortcomings of the band. Listen to the record, watch them live, and you'll see that this band is legitimately talented.

Do your ears a favor and get the entire album and enjoy it from start to finish.

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19 September 2011

Birthday Concerts


{ Photo by Cheryl Ann @ Bar Spiel }

My birthday falls in the middle of September and in recent years I've seen some fantastic shows around my birthday.

Back in September of 2005 I saw Oasis at the Hollywood Bowl with Kasabian and Jet. Oasis had long been a favorite band of mine since high school and to finally see them perform at a beautiful venue on a beautiful night was, well, beautiful. Touring behind their muscular new record Don't Believe The Truth it appeared as if Oasis were returning to a form they haven't had since the mid-90s.

But by August of 2009, the new phase of Oasis that seemed promising ultimately sputtered and faded away as internal strife ultimately split-up the band. Jet, predictably, was a flash in the pan. Kasabian showed promise but subsequent albums never captured the power of their debut.

I saw Phoenix with Metric at the Greek Theater in September of 2009 and I saw Phoenix again in September of 2010 at the Hollywood Bowl.

This small French band only catered to a small fan base since their release of United in 2000 but received world-wide recognition with their May 2009 release of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.

The Greek Theater holds just under 6,000 people and within a year they were playing to nearly 18,000 people at a sold-out Hollywood Bowl. Needless to say, the progression of this band in 12 months has been pretty amazing.


Tonight I will see Bon Iver at the Shrine Auditorium. My thoughts on Bon Iver have been well-documented on this site and I'm looking forward to an amazing experience. I hope the venue isn't too dusty.

I enjoy going to see a big concert around my birthday because it serves as a hallmark of a time in my life. It's hard not to look back at a show, the year, who you were with, and where you are today and see how much has changed and how much has stayed the same and how far you've come.

Concerts are like bookmarks for your life and Bon Iver will be the little post-it note in my brain that marks 2011.


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06 July 2011

Quit Your Job, Start A Funk Band #6


So, it's Wednesday, July 6 and you're still reeling from the Fourth of July weekend. You had big plans (read: productive plans) for your Monday off but you ended up boozing it up. Hard. Then there was the food. The swimming. The beach day. The fireworks. Whew.

You paid for it yesterday and, frankly, today isn't going any better.

The sounds of Bill Withers and "Use Me" is going to help keep you going today:


Yup. I know what you're thinking: It's time to quit your job and start a funk band.



{ Buy it. Get inspired. Start a funk band. }

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27 June 2011

21 June 2011

Do Your Ears A Favor: Bon Iver - "Towers"



In February of 2008 some guy named Justin Vernon retreated to a hunting cabin in Wisconsin to record some songs and released an album called For Emma, Forever Ago as Bon Iver (pronounced "bone E-vehr," it's French). By the end of 2008, For Emma was found regularly on "best of" lists and became indie-rock darlings. Through 2009 and 2010, the impact of the album on the hearts and minds of music-fans only grew.

The Blood Bank EP - released early in 2009 - barely whetted the appetites of Bon Iver fans.

Meanwhile, Vernon went on to record and write songs with Kanye West and worked with Gayngs in a fascinating retro-'80s-soft-rock project.

Three years later the long awaited self-titled LP, Bon Iver, Bon Iver, will finally be released today (though, I'm sure many of you have pulled the album out of the clouds). Honestly, I haven't felt this much anticipation for a record in a long time.

"Towers" (click the MP3 player above) stands out as one of my favorite tracks from the record (so far).

This Thursday Next week I'll make an attempt to discuss why Bon Iver is so g.d. good.

As for now, just enjoy "Towers," go to your local record store and buy the record and take some time to listen to the album as a whole.




{ Bon Iver is out today! Buy it now. }

16 March 2011

RIP: Nate Dogg


{ RIP Nate Dogg }



On Tuesday, March 15, 2011, Nathaniel D. Hale - aka Nate Dogg - passed away at the age of 41. TIME had a nice little post remembering Nate Dogg's influence on hip-hop.

But I think Snoop Dogg said it best on his Twitter account:
all doggs go to heaven yo homie n baby brotha bigg snoopdogg!!
@SnoopDogg
If you end up at a karaoke bar this weekend, I think you know what you need to do. But brush up on the Nate Dogg parts, you don't want to disrespect his memory with a bad performance.

Rest In Peace, Nate Dogg!



{ Nate Dogg regulating upstairs now. }

14 March 2011

Top Albums: 2010


{ Oh, 2010, so close but yet so far away! In chronological order: Lady Gaga sent her first five singles to the number 1 spot (Amazing). Beyonce wins six Grammys. Taylor Swift (not a country singer) wins four. 311 on 3/11 plays a five hour set (I didn't know they had that much music). Waitwait, Lady Gaga sends her first six singles to number 1. Justin Beiber debuts at number 1 (I still haven't heard one of his songs). Hang on, Lady Gaga's SEVENTH single goes to number 1. Ringo turns 70 (my parents feel old now). Lady Gaga wears a meat dress. Christina Aguilera buys receives a start on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Whew. Quite a year, isn't it? }

09 March 2011

Colin Cowherd: Best Rock Band Bracket


{ The Beatles are No. 1 overall }

Sports talk radio and ESPN personality Colin Cowherd is doing a NCAA Basketball March Madness style bracket competition with rock 'n' roll bands. Anyone with a basic knowledge of sports will know what all this bracket stuff is all about.

Previously he did Superheroes vs. Supervillains (Batman beat the Joker) and breakfast cereals (Cheerios/Honeynut Cheerios beat out Frosted Flakes). Both proved to be incredibly popular and this rock 'n' roll band bracket will be sure to generate even more response and debate (especially since people have more of an emotional connection to music than, say, a superhero or a breakfast cereal).

Cowherd and his staff picked the field of 64 teams and then they look towards the fans to vote on each match up. You can cast your votes here.

Now the field is missing a lot of bands but that's what happens when you try and distill decades of rock 'n' roll history into the top 64 bands. And I'd like to think that the knuckleheads that listen to Cowherd's show are a bit more cultured and intelligent (like myself!) but we'll see how it all pans out.

Pet Bear Sounds will be tracking the tournament so watch this space for my votes (in bold) and the results!

08 March 2011

"All My Friends" Documentary


So, these kids want you to help fund the production costs involved in filming a documentary about going across the country (from Los Angeles) to see the last* LCD Soundsystem show at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Full disclosure, I know these nouveau-hippies (I mean that in the best possible way)! These are my close friends who want your help! (FYI: I'm not directly involved in the project):


Brooklyn Vegan recently posted something about the documentary and the comments from cynical hipsters are pretty scathing.

But I see a lot of promise in this documentary.

It's a road trip documentary about friends heading across the country to see LCD Soundsystem and meet other LCD Soundsystem fans fanatics along the way and share their love for LCD Soundsystem and - more importantly, I think - document the unifying power of music.

Sure, there's a lot of '60s-era romanticism and idealism here but there's nothing wrong with that. And shouldn't there be a little more of that in this world?

I think so.


If you feel like helping (and every little bit helps!), visit their Kickstarter page to help out! There's less than two weeks left.

There are many ways you can follow their updates and their progress:


{ You should get this album. It's worth it. }


* I personally have my doubts on whether this will really be LCD Soundsystem's last show. Maybe their last tour. But not their last show. And I can certainly see another album as well.

25 February 2011

Birthday: George Harrison


{ Happy Birthday, George! }




{ The Beatles - "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" featuring an amazing solo by Prince }



{ George Harrison - "My Sweet Lord." One of the most beautiful songs ever written. Ever. }





{ A wonderful album. }

23 February 2011

Top Albums: 2009


{ Susan Boyle sold 8.3 million records, probably more than your favorite indie-bands combined, Wikipedia tells me that auto-tune peaked in 2009, thankfully Jay Z proclaimed the death of auto-tune, Lady Gaga's debut single dropped in early January, Adele is best new artist at the Grammy Awards. And speaking of the Grammy Awards, remember when Chris Brown beat up Rihanna before the award show? I remember. Duffy wins big at the Brit Awards. Britney completes a world tour. Lady Gaga doesn't go away. Eminem returns. And Michael Jackson leaves the world. The Beatles are remastered and get the Rock Band treatment. And by the time 2009 comes to a close, we realize that Lady Gaga is here to stay. }

21 February 2011

Top Albums: 2008


{ How was your 2008? Well, Amy Winehouse started off the year with a handful of Grammys, Scott Weiland quits Velvet Revolver and rejoins Stone Temple Pilots (results were mixed), Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa proclaims the 15th of April as Mariah Carey Day (wha--?!), Madonna releases her 11th studio album (and it's a No. 1 album), Lil' Wayne's sixth album sells a million copies in the first week, Britney Spears wins big at the MTV Music Video Awards and then goes on to sell tons more records, and Sir Paul McCartney plays Israel for the first time since being banned (yes, banned!) since 1965). }

16 February 2011

Do Your Ears A Favor: The Radio Dept. - "Heaven's On Fire"


{ The Radio Dept. in Lima, Peru circa October 2006 }

Do your ears a favor and listen to the Swedish band The Radio Dept. and "Heaven's On Fire."

If you're a fan of shoegaze and dream pop in the vein of My Bloody Valentine and Beach House, you're going to love these guys.

I'm really looking forward to seeing them tonight at their sold out show in The El Rey here in Los Angeles.

In my very brief days as an amateur concert promoter many years ago, I asked Radio Dept.'s label Labrador Records on a complete lark to see what it would take to bring them to Los Angeles. Of course, it was far too expensive to bring a band that's not on tour to come out from Sweden but I've been interested obsessed with wanting to see them live ever since I heard their early records.

(By the way, Labrador Records also has The Mary Onettes on their label, another wonderful dream pop band with heavy nods towards the '80s but still unique in their own right. More on them in a future post, I'm sure.)

And, now, I'll have the pleasure of seeing The Radio Dept. in a beautiful venue in Los Angeles and again at Coachella in mid-April.




{ A good week for "radio" bands: The Radio Dept. show tonight and a new Radiohead record this weekend! I can't wait. }

20 January 2011

Top Albums: 2007


{ The Police reunite and go on tour, Timbaland is accused of plagiarism, Elton John plays his 60th show - a record - at Madison Square Garden to celebrate his 60th birthday, Jordin Sparks wins American Idol and is never heard from again, the Spice Girls announce their reunion tour, Weird Al Yankovic plays his 1,000th show, Britney Spears' comeback single "Gimmie More" sells about 1,000,000 (!) copies shortly after its release, Radiohead announces that fans - like Priceline.com - can name their own price for their next record, Led Zeppelin reunites in London for the first time in 25 years. }