Wild Orchid Children will blow your mind

WILD ORCHID CHILDREN spawned from the dust of the unofficial, no longer indefinite hiatus taken by early ’00s alternative/progressive rock/pop band Gatsbys American Dream.

They are one of many side projects started by Gastby members that has blossomed into far more than just a project. Or a side. The supergroup features Kirk Huffman (vocals), Kyle O’Quin (keys) and Ryan Van Wieringen (baritone guitar & percussion) from Gatsby’s American Dream, alongside three other guys rocking guitars, percussion and effects. (Wild Orchid Children doesn’t even have its own Wikipedia entry yet – it’s embedded under Side Projects within the page on Gatsby).

But let’s get to the point.

This bombastic album sounds like nothing you’ve heard before, while at the same bringing enough familiar noises and jams that associations to any modern indie/prog group are safe to make. Think Mars Volta-style mind-bending beats, with Rage Against The Machine’s Zack de La Rocha-esque vocals and Portugal. the Man instrumentation.

It’s BIG. And adventurous.

The second track, “Black Shiny FBI Shoes” clocks in a little over 18 minutes long, and a good portion of that comprises of an extended percussion jam. It’s no “Moby Dick” (Led Zeppelin) but it is damn good — changing tribal beats dance to the sound of noodling electric guitar, keeping your ears perked with curiosity about what comes next.

Kirk Huffman takes vocal duties here, but sings nothing like his normal self. He has got a very talented and unique singing style, but he throws any sense of melody out the window with Wild Orchid Children. He’s more screaming than singing, and the closest thing you could compare would be de La Rocha – if he were performing through a megaphone, that is.

Now this is no concept album like Volta’s “Frances The Mute” or Coheed and Cambria’s last four albums. It doesn’t always flow from one song to the next, like one big acid trip.

But you don’t have to be high to appreciate the talent going on here.

The sixpiece named its album after Christopher McCandless, the character played by Emile Hirsch in “Into the Wild”, who infamously begins to call himself Alexander Supertramp while living in the wilderness.

Rich with cultural references, the group takes its title very seriously…as you can see by the wilderness motif, intact with real wild animals on the album cover, according to the liner notes.

Now I must note here: this is the first album I have purchased in a really long time.

My appetite for music consumption continues to grow and I have a list of nearly 50 bands I’m slowly getting around to checking out. Normally I look for a T-shirt/CD combo deal or make my contribution to the band by paying for concert tickets.

But this was a worthwhile cost, even if I payed twice as much at Rhino Records in Claremont as I would have at Best Buy.

Take a listen at the madness that is Alexander Supertramp. I’ve embedded “Peyote Coyote”, which has apparent influence from Zeppelin to the Beach Boys, Black Keys, White Stripes and even some cowbell that reminds me of the Cypress Hill/Tom Morello song from the new Green Hornet movie, “Rise Up.” Oh and don’t forget the creep vocal effect that transforms Huffman’s voice into something from a Mars Volta song about a minute in.

Like what you hear? Gatsbys American Dream is making a comeback this year. While you wait for the new tunes, listen to Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground (featuring Huffman and O’Quin, amongst others), Search/Rescue, RedRedBlue, Keith Ledger, Zero Cool, Razia’s Shadow, Princess Dinosaur, Places and Numbers, TickTockMan, or any solo work from any of these madly prolific musical dudes.

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.


rx bandits mandala

rx bandits' "mandala" is the best of the latest

I’m waiting for Rhino Records to call me with my copy of Portugal. The Man’s “The Satanic Satinist,” the new one everyone is talking about. I couldn’t find it at Target, Best Buy or Rhino last week! I’m a little in the dark, waiting for my own copy to give it a listen. Sure it’s good, though – “Church Mouth” is one of my favorite albums. And “Censored Colors” was good, but overlooked.

I just downloaded Grizzly Bear‘s new one, Veckatimest. I have to say, I’m not a fan. I’ve gotten about halfway through the album and I’m not sure what the fuss over this band is. They’ve got some good qualities, but overall I get very bored listening.

This SoCal beach-based band has been around for 14 years, and evolved from a second wave ska act to something with far too many labels to full encompass them (progressive, reggae, ska, rock, funk to name a few). I interviewed the guys when they came to Cal Poly last fall, and just caught them on their headlining tour with Dredg at the House of Blues in Anaheim. Killer, to say the least. Their sound gets more off the wall with each record, and for me, that tends to be a good thing. “Mandala” is no different. Gets better with each listen. UPDATE: check box widget on the sidebar to download a track from “Mandala”!

Now, something a bit disappointing was The Mars Volta’s new one, “Octahedron.” I expect a lot from this band, who is now on its fifth album and has a very strong cult-like following of prog rockers, scenesters and hipsters. “Octahedron” is so-so. It’s got a few cool tracks, like “Cotopaxi,” but is nothing new. It’s easy to forget. I still have got to claim “Frances The Mute” as my favorite. Closely followed by “De Loused” and a few tracks from “Amputechture,” like the 11-minute “Meccamputechture” Now that’s the Volta I know. “Octahedron” is sort of just there. Doesn’t do anything significant for me. Just a bit too mellow for this outlandish band, who I still can’t wait to see at Outside Lands in San Francisco in about a month.

Lastly, I just saw mega mashup DJ Girl Talk @ The Fox Theater in Pomona Friday night. Great, great venue. Three bars, space for 2,000, multiple rooftop lounges. Rad. I was unsure of going to see a DJ headline a show at a venue much larger than your typical LA club. While the free show only brought out maybe 1,000, Girl Talk got 40+ people dancing on stage with him his whole show, and got me and the rest of the crowd dancing. Mixing tracks from “Feed The Animals” (download it there…you pay what you want) and “Night Ripper” with an eclectic variety of other mainstream and classic hits and beats, Gregg Gillis aka Girl Talk impressed. Not to mention, the guy plastic wraps his laptop so his sweat doesn’t get all over it.

Hit me up if you need some tracks. I’ve got the tuneage.