Thursday, 7 February 2013

My Bloody Valentine! It's about Bloody time!

It's been 22 years since Loveless graced and pummeled my 21-year-old ears and psyche. Little did I know that I would have to wait until I was 43 years old before I would have the opportunity to buy the next installment. Most of the sane people in the world stopped holding their breath (or at least pretended to) after the 10 year mark and went on like most people and got jobs, families, houses and bigger and bigger record collections.

When I was kid I was always obsessed with music of all kinds. I remember begging my Dad for one of his Beatles records when I was about 5 years old. I didn't even know who the Beatles were I just knew I loved it and my Dad responded by handing me a Loudon Wainwright III record saying "Here's a Beatles record now stop bugging me!" I couldn't have been happier, I was 5 (I still have it).

Anyway, I had so many musical influences growing up it was next to impossible to pick one kind of music and call it my own, they were all mine. So, being a kid who simultaeously loved Sondheim and Black Flag made it next to impossible to hold onto any semblance of being actually cool. I was a kid who would talk about mariachi music with the same love and enthusiasm as the latest Pandoras or Dead Kennedys record I had just heard. 

What does My Bloody Valentine have in common with Mariachi bands, Sondheim and Black Flag you ask? Well, absolutely nothing and absolutely everything is my answer. "But you're crazy Senor El Guapo! Are you on the droogas or something?" Well in a way yes. It's all about sound, not necessarily music but sound. 22 years ago I took a massive dose of sound like no sound I'd ever had before and I came back from it a changed person. Maybe I'm a bit on the spectrum, who knows, but I hear the world in a very different way now and I'm never going back. Obviously My Bloody Valentine weren't the first band to experiment with sound, but MBV alongside Spacemen 3, Stereolab and Sonic Youth were my gateway to Brian Eno, Silver Apples,  Can, Hawkwind etc etc! I appear to be one of many that share very similar experiences. 

 So, after a 22 year wait how should I take this new record on? I'm actually afraid to press play, what's the worse that could happen?  I would hate to be in Kevin Shields' shoes. The honest truth is that I am sincerely surprised that he actually made the decision to put this out at all. Not because it's bad, because I think it's quite good, but because he went out with a masterpiece 22 years ago that literally changed the face of music and sound that will never be equaled even by its creator. I stated earlier that I almost wish that he had made a 180 degree turn and released some sort of a psychedelic cumbia dubstep record instead as a big f*ck you to all the shoegaze geeks slobbering for one more chance to re-live the 90s.

So the web site crashed and a hundred thousand anoracks began to panic (just a little bit) until my 43-year-old butt decided to go to bed and try again in the morning. Next day, 8:30 a.m., and I've bought 2 vinyl copies and my digital download. I wave goodbye to my dutiful wife, kiss her on the cheek, and tell her I will be away for a while and not to worry or send for help.

Listening to this record really needs to be a vinyl experience, but the records won't be here until March so digital it will have to be. I have fairly decent speakers and a nice comfy chair and I turn it waaaay up and close my eyes. This is where I "don't" go into some long fawning song by song soliloquy about how the record sounds like the violent beauty of underwater rainbows and pegacorns swimming through a miasma of blue angel hair, like every review out there. I don't have an overall solidified opinion yet and I'm not sure I ever will. I'm on my fourth listen and it's getting better and better with each successive listen. The joy of a My Bloody Valentine record is that it keeps on giving; they are the everlasting gobstopper of rock and roll and I am still discovering new sounds and experiences in their music 25 years after first hearing them and this new record is the next chapter in that musical journey. 

My first impression was that the record sounded like sketches--it's all there but somehow not finished and not in the right order, whereas Isn't Anything and Loveless seem fully formed and near perfect from the first listen. Something tells me that if you could plug directly into Kevin Shields' brain and listen to it, this record would be what is going on most of the time. Am I crazy? Probably. Does any of this matter in the slightest? Probably not. Why the hell does all this seem to matter to me? A friend of mine put it best when asked about the new record, saying, "Some of the best shows I've seen in my life were MBV shows. I just can't be bothered with the hype, and like I said, I still can't wrench my new Bobby Bland LP off the turntable". I could not agree more and something tells me Kevin Shields would concur. 

So yeah, I f*ing love this band and probably always will, but as I said in the beginning of this post I have gone from 21-year-old indie kid to 43-year-old music nerd who is way more obsessed with The Oblivions, King Khan and No Bunny, and whether I will ever be able to afford a house and raise children to inherit my obnoxiously large record collection (I mean, what else are kids for?).

I have no doubt that this new record will turn out to be a beautiful piece of work and I will listen to it over and over again forever, but in the long term it's a beautiful piece of work that is 22 years too late. So in the meantime I'll be waiting for that MBV Psychedelic Cumbia Dubstep record that has been rumored about for 2025. I think I'll put on that Bobby Bland record while I wait. 

I leave you with nothing from the new record, However I will leave you with The New Record by My Bloody Valentine. 

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Incredibly fast conversations with Incredibly famous people! Aka: "Cool Story Bro". Part # 1.

So being the unemployed procrastinator that I currently am and for no other reason than sheer boredom, I started thinking about the many insanely quick, awesome and sometimes awkward conversations I have had with really famous people throughout my life. I suppose I have had these moments mainly due to both my parents being actors and having just grown up around TV studios and whatnot, but also just down to that fact that I seem to attract talented, genius, egomaniacs for all the wrong reasons. I am sincerely convinced that these meetings are somehow directly connected to the endless string of impromptu injured and dying animals and people I seem to be randomly cursed with. Anyway, on that note. I'll spare you all the back story, so here it is.

My Dad: Hi Lena, this is my son (Elguapo).

Lena Horne: Hello (Elguapo), it's very nice to meet you.

My Dad: Hey guys, I'll be right back. (it's just me and Lena Horne now, just as my Dad exits and before either of us can say anything to each other, Kurt Vonnegut walks by and Lena Horne reaches out and grabs him by the arm and says.....)

Lena Horne: Kurt, Kurt, How are you?

Kurt Vonnegut: Fine, fine.

Lena Horne: Kurt, this is Emilio's Son (He has no Idea who Emilio is)

Kurt Vonneut: Mmmm....Uh...yeah, nice to meet you. Um, where's the men's room?

Me: Right over there.

Kurt Vonnegut: Thanks. (An awkward silence between Lena Horne and me ensues)

Lena Horne: was nice to meet you.

Me: You Too..............

"Cool story Bro"

Next Week: Martin Sheen at LAX!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Oh Captain My Captain!

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

Saturday, 20 November 2010


Aaaaaaaand were back! It's been a while, nice to see y'all. Q: "Where you been Senor El Guapo?" A: "Oh you know, traveling the globe having adventures. That is what I do best by the way, thanks for asking."

So, on a recent danger-filled trip to the wild, primitive and suburban jungles of Uxbridge, London, I stopped by the local charity shop and perused the never-changing record section filled with Duran Duran and Lonnie Donegan records, hoping for a bit of a surprise.

When you're digging through records, what exactly is the criteria that makes you go, "Yes! I'll have that one!" even if you don't have the slightest idea what kind of potentially ear-splitting hellishness may reside on it?

Records are one of the few occasions when you sometimes (I stress sometimes) can definitely judge a book by its cover. If it's got a really psychadelic sleeve then you're usually guaranteed something remotely entertaining if not mind blowing, and so on and so forth.

So, did you know that there was a groovy 60s pop scene in Sri Lanka? I know I didn't. Behind the previously mentioned Duran Duran records I came across these Sri Lankan 45's with awesome covers that screamed Grooviness with a slight hint of cheese. Anyway, with no way to listen to them I figured even if the music is crap the sleeve art was worth my hard earned 50p weekly allowance money.

Once home I threw down my bags and tore up the three flights of stairs (at 41 year old speed) to my little musical attic cave and slapped those little suckers on my turntable one at a time and.........It wasn't too damn bad! Think mid-60s elvis clambake meets Bollywood meets Dick Dale, sort of, but not? Don't expect to have your mind blown, but hey when was the last time you heard 60's Sri Lankan pop music?

I actually have a Sri Lankan classmate who told me these guys are all Sri Lankan superstars and that this kind of music is called "Baila", which brings me to the first record because it's by a man known as the "King of Baila"! Not only does Desmond De Silva look like a pretty swinging dude he is apparently a major advocate for people with Autism in Sri Lanka, Go Desmond!

Desmond Desilva - Maw Bima Heradha.

Milton Mallawaaratchi, or as I like to call him "Mr. Personality" (he doesn't seem terribly excited in the cover pictures), was a composer and extremely popular playback singer in the late 60s and early 70s. Playback singers are the ones who sing the songs in Bollywood movies that the actors lip-synch to. Anyway apparently he used to draw crowds of thousands and won a best playback singer award once! Woo Hoo! Or as they say in Sri Lanka "Woo Hoo!"

Milton Mallawaaratchi - Malin Maley

Priya Suriyasena was a music teacher turned serious heartthrob with teenage Sri Lankan girls in late 60s and early 70s. He's still kicking around, singing and breaking the hearts of little old ladies around the world. The label has a stamp across it that says it was bought at the "Ultra Sonic Record Bar" If the shop was as cool as their name, I would love to have seen it! This one didn't come with a cover, I could only find a tiny picture of this Sri Lankan adonis, feast your eyes, ladies!

Priya Suriyasena - Ratakin Eha Ma

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Treasure Hunt! Independent record store day!

Today is Independent record store day, which, if it were up to me, would become a mandatory international holiday. It is my high holy day, and I can honestly say that my life would not resemble the bizarre twist of depressive, melancholic, joyful and hellish euphoria that I so enjoy today if it weren't for independent record shops.

My early days in Los Angeles were dictated by whatever Rodney Bingenheimer (Rodney on the Roq) told me to do. So I spent the majority of my time hanging out at PooBah Records, Moby Disc or Aron's Records, or spending the better part of my days on Melrose Av at Vinyl Fetish or trying to avoid the attack dog behind the counter at Bleeker Bob's while searching for the new Tater Totz or Pandoras record. Thing is, even if I didn't find what I was looking for, every visit was an education. I would literally spend hours in one store sometimes, staring at the rarities hanging on the walls. It was like a museum where you could actually afford to buy some of the Picasso's and Vermeer's for five or ten bucks.

I suppose downloading your music has some acceptable place in the world, but as with so much other modern technology over the last twenty years it has taken community out of the equation and what we are left with is a non tactile world where people don't interact with each other anymore. Going to your local record shop was like going to the pub, you would have the same cast of characters who would sit around and geek off about their collections and their favorite bands. The lurker, the talker, the know-it-all would all be in attendance like clockwork on any given day and even though you all irritated each other and seldom agreed, you were happy to be there nonetheless.

When was the last time you cracked open the shrink wrap on that newly downloaded mp3 to find you got one of the 300 blue ones with a limited 7 inch inside? You didn't, because you cant and it's a crying shame. Digging for hours through boxes and boxes of moldy 10cc and Barbara Streisand records to come across that super rare copy of Tommy Dent's - Soul Thing on Cobblestone records in the last box you almost didn't look in is literally like finding treasure! If this really happened, I would have a heart attack before I ever got to play it.

In order to stave off the reaper, Independent records stores need to get hip with the kids, so to say, and change how they are doing business. There are some excellent examples of independent stores that are keeping the faith whilst moving with the times too. These guys are the future of independent record stores.

Sounds of the Universe - Funk, soul, disco, afrobeat, hip hop.

Other Music - If you like your independent, obscure or rare music, you name it they have it!

Soundflat - Punk rock, Garage rock, soul/funk, surf, Rock & Roll!

Damaged Goods - Punk rock, Garage rock.

Goner records - Everything Rock & Roll.

Origami Vinyl - Creating something out of nothing.

Official Record store day site!
- Click it!

Anyway, I leave you with a couple of recent record store finds I would be lost with out! Go buy a record! It's good for whatever you have that needs being good!

Lady B - To The Beat Y'all

Tame Impala - Retamed by canyons.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Takin' the Bronx River Parkway to your soul.

The current soul scene in NYC is something to behold at the moment. I feel honored that I have had the opportunity to take part, even in the tiniest way, once putting on the mighty Budos Band and again collaborating with my friend Matt (Mr. Finewine) putting on The Mighty Hannibal and Young Jesse at The Hook in Red Hook Brooklyn.

The video quality is far from cinematic, Just close your eyes and pretend you were there, it was pretty great.

The Budos Band @ The Hook

Young Jesse @ The Hook

Daptone records and Truth & Soul records have been leading the charge for the last five or six years by putting out some of the best soul, funk, afrobeat and latin sounds the world has heard for a long time. This is not a movement of nostalgia, these guys have proven their ability to produce heavy hitting original material that would make any Willie Colon, Lebron Brothers, Fela or Eddie Bo feel proud!

I wanted this post to be about spreading the word that quality music is not dead by a long shot! It's all over and everywhere at once, you just have to want it bad enough and it's yours!

I want to leave you with one of the best records I have heard in years, I actually wept a little bit (while dancing my ass off in my room). I cannot express how amazing these guys are. Bronx River Parkway - San Sebastian 152. Pure NYC through and through! Enjoy!

If you like these guys check out Truth & Soul Records, there is pretty much nothing bad or even questionable on the label, it's all pure quality.

The same goes for Daptone Records, you can't get any more soulful without spontaneously combusting! That would be cool to see though.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Brown on the inside!

Recently I have been thinking a lot about my Mexicaness or lack thereof, if I really want to be honest about it. I'm the product of a proud Chicano father and a beautiful whitey Mom. Genetically I ended up being white on the outside and brown on the inside, sort of a reversed milk chocolate oreo. I spent big chunks of my early life hanging out in Griffith park in Los Angeles with my 10,000 cousins, aunts and uncles and as far as I was concerned I was just as Mexican as any of them. A small white spot in a sea of brown. To this day my Dad still calls me "Guero"!

Even though I have grown up in a pretty white world, I have never felt comfortable just saying "I'm white" because I'm not just white, I'm Mexican too! I can barely speak any Spanish but I can feel my Mexicaness in my bones! You can see it when I become completely overwhelmed with emotion when a mariachi band drops that first brass note with a high pitched yelp, it just kills me. I can feel it when I cant help but dance my butt off when El Chicano or Malo lay down some serious Chicano soul funk! It is my gospel music, it drives me nuts in the most powerful way!

What I wouldn't do to sit in a kitchen with my Nana while she makes a big pot of Fideo and whips up some home made tortillas! Man oh man, I need to find a substitute abuelita to cook some serious Mexican food for me. I Live in London now and there is nothing that resembles home cooked Mexican food anywhere near here, I will continue to cry into my non-existant albondigas until I get some.

So short story long, I have been appeasing myself by checking out some rare Chicano soul/funk that has been filling me with the desire to go to highland park and find the nearest taco truck! So here are a couple of recent finds that have been inspiring me to "keep on keeping on" in the name of La Raza!

Zapata - Viva La Raza. I heard this record by chance recently and decided it was a must have and lo and behold I found one! This is a pretty scarce record and worth all the time and effort. I tried to do some research on these guys but hit a big dead end. It's classic west coast Chicano power soul! The lyrics sum up the whole movement in the late 60's early 70's. I can see the UFW flags flying in the studio while they are recording this! Clear some space on your floor and get ready to start dancing! Viva La Raza baby!

Black Diamond - For the Love of You. Another chunk of west coast "Brown Power" soul/rock. Just like the last one I can't find any info on the band or the label? I've never seen another? Sit back and enjoy the Lo-ride!

Friday, 2 April 2010

Shake it til you cant shake no mo!

Back in 2007 I went to some festival thing at McCarren Pool in Williamsburg Brooklyn. I honestly can't remember who was playing that day, I was having such a good time people watching, I can't even remember what I originally went there for? It was one of those epic NYC summer days when NYC truly lives up to being one of the best F*#%ing places on earth and you have to pinch yourself to make sure your not in the middle of some awesome wet dream filled with Beer, Rock & Roll, Sunshine and well.... Awesomeness! I love those moments, I live in London now and it can be pretty amazing at times but let's face it, you just can't beat Soccer Tacos in Red Hook, Brooklyn or in this case Spazztastic dancing at your local Rock & Roll pool. I was perusing my external hard drive (if you know what I mean?) and I found these awesome videos I took of people dancing at McCarren pool that day. I love the way no one gives a sh*t what they look like or what anybody thinks, these people are just letting loose and having a great time! It just reminded me that everyone should should let it all hang out some times without apology! Put on some funky stuff and dance goddamnit! Dance!

I love the way this guy starts to loose control and has an "Oh Sh*t!" moment while doing a stiff legged chuck berry thing but recovers nicely by just doing it in the opposite direction.

Fighting off beach balls wont stop these guys from shaking their money makers! I also dig Mr. cool in the Bela Lugosi shirt and sunglasses, he's dancing on the inside with a smile on his face.

What can I say about this guy? I have no words. The girl who joins him at the end was just as awesome but my camera died just as she started jerking and kicking away.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Up up up to The Heaviside Layer.

I have always been predominately a cat person and when I wasn't a cat person I was either a rat person or a bird person for some reason? I'm not a big fan of having anything that has to be in a cage, it just seems all wrong. A pet should be able to hang out with you on the couch and watch TV or leave disgusting dead gifts on your floor. From birth to 40 it has been 8 cats, 3 parakeets, 1 rat, 1 gold fish and 2 tadpoles. The problem with pets is that we out live them by miles and when they go it leaves a tangible hole that cannot be filled so easily.

Every once in a while an animal will come into your life that has something other worldly about them. They seem enlightened, they hold on to something that we humans have lost a long time ago and only get fleeting glimpses of now and again. Pets share that "Something" with us through unconditional love. I don't mean that in a cutsey greeting card way, It's actually a very deep relationship that needs to nurtured and respected.

Last week my good friend "One" decided to check out of this world and move on to the heavy side layer. He was a beautiful, barfing, cuddling, furniture destroying bohdisattva. He almost always stood on three legs and never made a sound. I wish I could have been there to say goodbye, He died in my moms arms, exactly where he wanted to be. You will be so missed my friend, so missed.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Goodbye Mr. Howard. It's been a wild ride.

Not much to say really, Nick Cave and The Birthday Party have contributed mightily to the soundtrack of my life, good times and bad, but always poignant. The ferocity of Roland S. Howard's playing, and the uber dangling-cigarette indifference he so handsomely personified, was the perfect counterpoint to the ramblings of a psychotic genius like Nick Cave. You'll be sorely missed Mr. Howard. See you on the other side.