17 September 2012


My Morning Jacket at the Wiltern.
My Morning Jacket at the Wiltern; 13 September 2012

Fiona Apple at the Greek.
Fiona Apple at the Greek; 14 September 2012

It's my birthday today!

As I've previously documented, I've had a pretty amazing run of Birthdaytimes Concerts and broke a lot of I-finally-saw-that-band Cherries along the way:

The seeds of Anglophilia were planted by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Zombies, Eric Clapton, (etc., etc.) and British literature and films. The mid-1990s Brit-Pop revolution (or re-evolution, perhaps?) took those seeds and nurtured them into trees that took root in my head and heart.

I can always credit Oasis for the reason why I finally decided to start writing songs and in 2005 I finally saw Oasis in concert at the Hollywood Bowl with Kasabian and Jet.

In the early-2000s I was enthralled with "If I Ever Feel Better" by Phoenix and spent almost a decade enjoying every album by Phoenix and patiently waiting for the chance to see them in concert.

I finally saw Phoenix (with Metric) at the Greek in September of 2009. For good measure, I saw Phoenix again almost exactly a year later at the Hollywood Bowl.

Bon Iver was my birthday concert last year and his performance at the Shrine Auditorium was a real treat. It was incredible to see the stark, simple songs of For Emma, Forever Ago translate into full, epic renditions in concert.

This year I have wrapped a couple fantastic concerts around my birthday. I saw My Morning Jacket at the Wiltern last Thursday and Fiona Apple at the Greek the following night.

After strong and stunning debut album, Apple's creative output has been inconsistent and sporadic. And in brand new world of social media, Fiona has been essentially absent. So, I wasn't sure what to expect from Fiona Apple. But her strong performance at the Greek was a very pleasant surprise.

Judging from the albums alone, I've considered My Morning Jacket one of the best pure rock 'n' roll bands touring today. I've heard the stories about their legendary live performances and when I finally saw MMJ in concert, I can now confidently say that they are the best rock 'n' roll band today. Enough said. (Well, until the inevitable OMG-MMJ-fanboy blog post...)

Fiona and MMJ are two more fantastic birthday concerts in the books. I'm already looking forward to the show(s) that I'll see for my birthday in 2013.

Finally, let's re-visit the worst birthday song on the planet. Ever.

Thanks, Stevie Wonder. I think.

And now get the sour taste of that birthday song out of your head with The Beatles and their superior birthday song "Birthday."

Thanks, Beatles. Thanks for reading everyone!

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13 September 2012

MY MORNING JACKET: Sorting Out The Setlist

My Morning Jacket
My Morning Jacket at Outside Lands 2010
Photo by: Sara Wilson

The day is coming, the day is near. The day is finally here and I am going to see My Morning Jacket for the first time at the Wiltern in Los Angeles, CA.

Their latest record Circuital was my #1 album of 2011 where I declared that "My Morning Jacket is the best American rock band that we have today."

At least on record. Now I finally get to see if their live performance will match the quality of their records and there are no doubts from fans and critics alike that their live shows are every bit as good as the albums.

For their three-night stand at the Wiltern, My Morning Jacket are doing three nights with no repeats. A unique setlist for each night. Nights one and two are in the books and Pet Bear Sounds is going to do a little process of elimination and see what My Morning Jacket have in store for us tonight.

Why do this? Because of the numerous neurotic qualities that I possess.

11 September 2012

REMEMBERING 9/11: Clear Channel and the memorandum

It's hard to imagine that 11 years have gone by since the attacks on September 11 but here we are.

September 11th is that B.C./A.D. sort of marker in our timeline where we find ourselves saying, "Oh, right, that was before 9/11" or "That was after 9/11." I saw a lot of commentary this morning about children growing up in a post-9/11 world and how to discuss 9/11 in today's classrooms to a generation of kids who weren't even born when the United States was attacked, all of which, superficially-speaking, made me feel old.

There are plenty of writers who will be able to comment far more eloquently about 9/11 and there'll be plenty of bloggers writing about their personal experiences on that day along with everyone Tweeting and Facebooking about 9/11 as well (can't wait to see the epic 9/11 Fails on Failbook.com tomorrow).

As for me, let me remember 9/11 from a musical point of view. (After all, this is kinda the whole point of Pet Bear Sounds).

One of the most shocking things following 9/11 was the memorandum sent out by media giant Clear Channel Communications essentially banning songs that were deemed "questionable" following the attacks.

Well, I take that back. Clear Channel didn't "ban" the songs.

According to Snopes.com:
It's not unusual in a time of sadness and mourning such as the one following the September 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. that radio and television stations temporarily suspend the airing of material — programs, songs, advertisements — that might be considered insensitive or in bad taste. Just as an airline wouldn't show in-flight films featuring airplane crashes, especially after a particularly horrible airliner accident, so entertainment outlets generally opt to temporarily dispense with material dealing with death and disaster in the wake of terrible real-life events. So, many radio stations have recently invoked voluntary moratoriums on songs which refer to airplanes, crashes, violence, and death in their lyrics or titles.
Furthermore, according to a program director at Clear Channel: "This was not a mandate, nor was the list generated out of the corporate radio offices. It was a grassroots effort that was apparently circulated among program directors."

Fair enough. In retrospect - if Clear Channel are to be believed - it doesn't seem as insidious as it seemed in 2001. But keep in mind the perspective I was coming from: a young, liberal college kid studying poli-sci, working as the arts & entertainment editor for the university paper, interning and producing segments for a current events talk radio show at the local NPR affiliate. Also keep in mind that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 essentially deregulated everything in media so Clear Channel was gobbling up radio stations all over the country creating a broadcast monopoly. Gee, thanks for that one, Bill.

So, all that in mind, after a major attack on American soil, even the simple notion of this big, bad media giant sponsoring any sort of censorship - especially in a time of crisis - was frightening.

Eleven years later in this post-9/11 world it still is.

And that is something to remember on 9/11 that freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the freedom of the press are rights that we must fiercely fight for every single day.

Oh and, Clear Channel? For future reference it is actually okay to permanently ban any songs by 3 Doors Down, Alien Ant Farm, Godsmack, Limp Bizkit, and P.O.D. Thanks.

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08 September 2012

THE WEEK(s): David Gray Plans To Destroy Homes (in addition to ears), Albums That Make Us Feel Old, Lana Del Rey Naked, Socks.

Be Here Now is 15, Turn On The Bright Lights is 10 and we're old.

It has been a while since our last post about The Week but it's because Pet Bear Sounds has been all over the place.

But there has been a lot going on in past few weeks!
  • Pet Bear Sounds went to FYF. Are you following us on Instagram? (Handle: PetBearSounds).
  • Photographer Thom Moore re-imagines famous album covers with socks. SOCKS.
  • File this under "This Makes Me Feel Old" because the incredible Interpol album Turn On The Bright Lights turned 10.
  • The Russian police is on the hunt for more Pussy. Riot, that is. Pitchfork has all the latest.
  • David Gray (yah, remember him?) insists on destroying places that produce good music. Jealousy.
  • File this under "This Makes Me Feel Older" because that awesome Oasis album Be Here Now turned 15.
  • Stereogum sums up LA Weekly's "20 Worst Hipster Bands." File this one under "You might be a hipster if..."
  • Record store owner Manuel Vasquez is selling an album recorded by Charles Manson. And he's getting hate mail for it. Shocker.
  • Jack White tells the BBC that music festivals are a "necessary evil."
  • Do we need another Rolling Stones documentary? Apparently we do. Crossfire Hurricane is a career-spanning documentary for television to be released later this year. (Yah, we'll watch it).
  • And, finally, NME wonders if Lana Del Rey can pose naked on GQ and still be taken seriously as a musician.

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01 September 2012

FYF FEST 2012: See you there!

(click poster for set times)

FYF Fest over Labor Day weekend? It's a tradition now!

This year marks the expansion of the festival from one day to two and, sure, that also means an expansion in ticket prices (from 20-something dollars to 80-something) but take one look at the lineup and you can tell that this mini-Coachella is worth it. Add the backing of promoting powerhouse Goldenvoice and now you've got a more "professional" looking festival.
With the help of Goldenvoice, [Sean] Carlson said, “I was no longer dealing with the city, staging and lighting and the tents. I’m looped in, but I’m not sitting there going over budgets for hours and hours. Why do that when I can hire someone to do that?” [LA Times]
All the logistics are more professional and the lineup packs a punch as well. In keeping to its roots, local Los Angeles bands are still fixtures in the lineup but sprinkled in are more established, hey-I-know-them acts.

I'm really looking forward to seeing: AA Bondy, Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Future Islands, Warpaint, Sleigh Bells, Purity Ring, Tycho, M83, Simian Mobile Disco, Givers, Against Me!, Paul Banks, Dinosaur Jr., Liars, Health, Yeasayer, Beirut, Twin Shadow, etc., etc., etc.

Also, I got on board the Instagram train so you can see me snap pictures of bands.

Follow me at: petbearsounds

See you there!
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