Give this band some press: Let’s Drive to Alaska

From left to right, Let's Drive to Alaska is Marisa Kirtland, Chris Garcia, Cris Holguin and Patrick Haag.

Orange County indie up and comers Let’s Drive to Alaska are an experiment.

An experiment that explores the art of sound creation and manipulation.

Moody synths meld with glitchy beats and melodic strings to create an introspective and atmospheric arrangement. Throw in a dash of post-rock sensibilities and you’ve got Let’s Drive to Alaska.

Think From Monument to Masses meets The Notwist and the softer side of Explosions In The Sky. Music you can think to, write to, sleep to and even wake up to.

The Whittier-based instrumental outfit Let’s Drive to Alaska has become an OC mainstay throughout the last six months, making an impact on the local scene with well-honed live shows that draw a good crowd even on a Monday night.

The band’s May 23rd performance at Fullerton’s Commonwealth Lounge, where I caught them live, was no exception. This is a tight group — band member Cris Holguin says they practice three times a week, upwards of five hours at a time.

Yet no one is talking about them. You can find LTDA on Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Soundcloud, but a quick Google news or blog search leads to links mostly related to, of course, Sarah Palin.

LDTA is a distinct breed of band, where the music stems from one person’s creation.

It’s like Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor’s industrial rock collective. Reznor writes and records most of the music but brings a full band on tour. Conor Oberst, frontman of Bright Eyes, and Zach Condon of Beirut have similar strategies.

In this case, it’s 23-year-old Chris Garcia…at least for now.

LTDA has seen a few different lineups, and the current four-piece is just Garcia’s latest efforts to realize his musical visions.

Garcia, who started making music on his laptop in 2005, has held many monikers for his eclectic musical projects. He has The Coherent Mammals, an ambient group not too dissimilar from LTDA and the more guitar-driven The Golden Tongues, to name a few.

With the latest incarnation, Garcia has brought on solid talent for a more permanent arrangement: drummer Pat Haag (ex-Mississippi Man), sampling and effects artist Cris Holguin and violinist/celloist Marisa Kirtland.

But the still-fresh group has yet to face it’s biggest challenge — winning over the toughest crowd to date: LA hipsters.

The band knows that pull in Orange County means nothing in Los Angeles and that it’s not unusual to play to an empty audience the first few shows.

They’ll find out soon enough as their first LA show is at The Airliner Monday night.

Right now, the group is putting finishing touches on a new EP, “Floating Mammoths.” This will be the first recording to feature the current lineup.

And while the album is almost in the bag, Holguin says he is working on a groundbreaking visual set to sync up to the music during live performances.

And if you’re curious about seeing Holguin on stage hooking up his effects board to a 20″ white iMac instead of a laptop, you’ll have to ask him about the first Let’s Drive to Alaska show for that story.

Check out a track from Let’s Drive to Alaska:

Pictures from the Commonwealth Lounge show HERE.

You can watch an interview with LTDA frontman Chris Garcia here:

Genre: Electronic/Experimental/Postrock/Electronic

Arcade Fire, Amazon MP3s, Warriors of Rock

By now, the entire world has heard the new Arcade Fire album, “The Suburbs.” OK, not everybody…but it came out August 3, so in the blogosphere it’s been pretty much forever.

And the seven-piece Canadian ensemble sold out Madison Square Garden in New York, two nights in a row. Rolling Stone has an excellent review of the show, which was also streamed live on YouTube last week . Now that’s a win for “indie” — if you can still call it that….and turns out you can. The critically acclaimed group is on Merge Records, an independent label, so the term indie stands.

The third Arcade Fire album is amazing. It hooks you in from the beginning with the title track “The Suburbs”, wrapping you into the story of a youth growing up Mormon in The Woodlands, Texas. The dramatic, over-the-top, and fast-paced  nature make Arcade Fire songs run smoothly, but after 13 tracks not much yearning is left.

Pitchfork gave the album an 8.6. So you know there’s something to what I’m saying. The band’s previous album “Neon Bible” got an 8.4, while the debut “Funeral” received a 9.7. This are impressive simply because anything above a 6 from this music blog pretty much means “does not suck.”

If you haven’t got your hands on this album yet, Amazon MP3s seems to be making progress in the digital download lifestyle by offering mp3 albums cheap for a 24-hour period. You can pick it up (well, down) for $7.99…still not bad at all.

In other rock news, I was shocked to hear one of my favorite artists, RX Bandits, have a track on the upcoming sixth installment of the Guitar Hero franchise. I caught drift via @sargenthouse, the label run by Mars Volta guitarist Omar Rodriguez Lopez. Guitar Hero 6, now being called “Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock” features “It’s Only Another Parsec…”, a groove-worthy track from RXB’s latest, “Mandala.” I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to see RXB play its three albums in their entirety, back-to-back in September at the Troubadour from the 24th to the 26th.

I haven’t played guitar hero in a good long time, but judging by the list of other bands appearing on the game, the Long Beach-based experimental/formerly ska act is a standout amongst the likes of big names like Muse, Nine Inch Nails and The Rolling Stones. There are some indie staples like Silversun Pickups and Anberlin, but RXB don’t have nearly the same namesake. Way to go guys. You can check out the full tracklist for “Warriors of Rock” here if you’re curious.

I’ve uploaded “It’s Only Another Parsec…” to the widget on the right of this blog for your utmost convenience!

As for the Arcade Fire’s new stuff, give it a listen on NPR if you want to try before you buy.

this week in music vol. ii

Now that this is a series (did you see the vol. II in the title?), I’ve really got stay on top of new music (which sometimes includes culture).

But first off, a quick thank you. Thank you to the LA Times for calling Grizzly Bear overrated! Nothing against the guys, but the music is really so-so. Granted, I still haven’t really gotten into Animal Collective either, who were the “it” band  6 months ago when “Merriweather Post Pavillion” came out. Nonetheless, LA Times’ overrated/underrated gallery claims Grizzly Bear and Zoey Deschanel overrated, Mad Men and Nine Inch Nails underrated. Heres’ the excerpt on GB:


Grizzly Bear: We’re suckers for hearing the band of the moment, and the quartet’s new album, “Veckatimest,” is touted as this summer’s must-hear. Though the first single, “Two Weeks,” is an addictively airy confection, the rest of this ornate, harmony-rich album left us kind of cold. Each song is undeniably pretty but feels like an impossibly delicate construct, making us wonder whether there’s any blood underneath it all.

Check out the full list HERE. It’s pretty awesome — upscale burgers and indiefied mix casette tapes are also overrated.

Now to the music. I hit up Rhino Records in Claremont last week and got some gems. Raided the uber cheap used section for some An Angle, Brandston, Eisley and a couple other randoms. Haven’t gotten to those yet.

The good stuff though was in the new Portugal. The Man and an album from a band I just started listening to: “The Meek Shall Inherit What’s Left” by Kiss Kiss.

Portugal does it again, with another great album. I can’t get enough of this band. Listened maybe three times through the new one (which has great artwork), and I’ll definitely approve. A more thorough review to come soon.satanic-satanist-portugal-man

Kiss Kiss, which I have just noticed from checking out their myspace, has a concert scheduled in space. Yes, space. This could be completely untrue, but their tour schedule is claiming an appearance at the international space station in 2010. Somehow I doubt that, but hey I’d be down! This band has rich strings to complement some slightly avant-garde rock. The falsetto voice, slightly imperfect, is a great match and you can really hear the anguish in a few tracks. Pretty epic music, so I like it a lot. A bit like …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead or Vendetta Red.

Also checked out Spinnerette, a new group from former Distillers‘ frontwoman Brody Dalle. She’s the wife of Queens of the Stone Age front man Josh Hommes. Rolling Stone article here.

Also checked out War Tapes and Parachute at the listening stations. Stellar, but I’ll download.

Also bought 4 old school DVDs for $2.99 each: Johnny Mnemonic, Code 46, DeRailed, Species. My favorite so far (I’ve only watched Species and Code 46) is Species. Who knew that the blazing hot Natasha Henstridge walked around half the movie butt naked? Sexy, indeed.

Grand total? 4 DVDs, 6 CDs for $40. Not bad.

addendum: uploaded tracks so you can hear what I’m talkin’ about. Check out “The Home” from Portugal and “The Best Mistake” from Kiss Kiss.