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Stories by Andrew Hamlin

Drake Bell's Ready Steady Go!

The Kinks’ “Sunny Afternoon,” with its grousing about the taxman taking “all my dough,” might refer on the sly to Drake Bell’s ongoing bankruptcy, just as sardonic observations elsewhere on the glitter life sound like ...

William Shatner's Ponder the Mystery

Let’s assume he’s serious. Simplifies matters. And unlike his previous, Seeking Major Tom, this one has no well-known originals to brain-sprain yourself over. He’s by turns polemic, stumbling, provocative, gravely. You need his grit, too, ...

Craft/science

After four EPs and three full-lengths, the Dum Dum Girls, masterminded by Dee Dee Penny (née onetime San Diego resident and Grand Ole Party drummer Kristin Welchez, aka Kristin Gundred), seems poised to go ubiquitous, ...

School of Rock's sympatico vibe

Asked why San Diego’s School of Rock chose to open an new branch in Encinitas, music director Tyler Ward credits popular demand and sympatico vibe. “We have recently had tons of requests from families in ...

Animated Numan

Synthesizer maestro and resident alien of alienation, Gary Numan’s music was, and is, dark, strong, and rich — goth when goth wasn’t cool. He took time from touring behind his new album, Splinter (Songs from ...

Carla Bley's Trios

Pianist/composer Carla Bley, 77 years old now, knows outrage and energy; her early masterwork Escalator Over the Hill ends with repetition infinite — or at least, until the needle punches through the lock groove at ...

Pop fell away from the heart

Asked how San Diego treats his now-L.A.–based band Xiu Xiu, singer Jamie Stewart tells the Reader via email: “It has been mixed. There have been shows that were totally sold out and the people were ...

Harsh Toke's Light Up and Live

San Diego’s own, here, live for the fumes. They live for each new spume. Imagine that perpetually smoking RV from Breaking Bad and substitute some stinky green, which at least won’t kill you quite so ...

Earth’s fastest violinist

Juilliard-trained David Garrett won’t talk about departing the Royal College of Music in London after one semester, but he can play 13 notes in one second and is scheduled to play Balboa Theatre on January 26 — so what’s the big deal?!

Ratt gets ready to roll

On San Diego: "What happened to this place?"

Ratt frontman Stephen Pearcy talks about the ’80s San Diego glory days…but — BUT! — the band is getting to roll again. Can’t keep a good Ratt down. Take note, so-called “pest controllers”!

How My Heart Sings by Bill Evans

The bassist Scott LaFaro, whom Evans lost to a car crash prior to recording this, was staking out entirely striking counterpoint on his instrument, so anything without him was likely to seem a letdown. Evans ...

Snow Globe, by Erasure

“Loving Man,” with its ecstatic gender-blurring one minute (“I’m A boy/I’m a girl/Who has everything”), bipolar furor at rejection the next, and frustrating refusal to climax musically, sounds dragged in from another project, matching the ...

Ubu is the idea

Pere Ubu can and have been praised for their salvo of dark matter fired from America’s heart (their native Cleveland) starting with their first single “30 Seconds Over Tokyo” in 1975. They bring their Lady ...

Julian Lennon's Everything Changes

Almost every rhyme, predictable. Almost every sentiment, common (hopefully). But I am behind this one, and you should be, too. For commonality and for predictability, actually. Because rock and roll has come around to the ...

Black Sabbath's 13

They wouldn’t shell out for Bill Ward. That’s one obscenity. He’s the drummer for Sabbath, dunderheads, pull out the purse. Only excuse I can think of is Tony Iommi thought maybe he was down for ...

Rock 'n' roll protoplasm

Pitchfork, Drive Like Jehu, Hot Snakes guitarist Rick Froberg bashes and embraces San Diego.

Rub my sticks

Earthless drummer Mario Rubalcaba talks about the band’s new release, From the Ages. He also insists “That we are not a stoner rock band.”

OMD's English Electric

Slow. Dissolve. As opposed to slow dazzle. Cinematic synth-pop owing at least as much to German Expressionism as the actually Krautrock Kraftwerk they salute through synth and textures. Impeccable ‘tis, in counterpoint and timbre, to ...

Night, by Simone Dinnerstein and Tift Merritt

Tift Merritt’s sounding more like Patty Griffin than ever, and the choice of a Griffin tune to this singular mind-meld of classical piano (Simone Dinnerstein) and whatever it is Merritt does, seems to wink conspiratorially. ...

Joan Armatrading's Starlight

I cannot believe she programmed those drums (not to mention everything else) all by herself. They sound live, crisp, and swinging, ever more complex with each listen. I better believe, though, that after 33 years ...

Lester Bangs, El Cajon kid

Interview with Grossmont College’s Raul Sandelin, who is near completion of the film A Box Full of Rocks: The El Cajon Years of Lester Bangs.

Miles Davis Quintet — Live in Europe 1969

Smeary, I was going to say. But smeary implies an overall indifference to control. This stuff, collected from 1969 in Europe, demonstrates control on multiple levels — if it achieves smeariness, it does so if ...

Beth Orton's Sugaring Season

“Alive, alive, alive, alive/ Alive, alive, alive, alive-o/ Alive-o,” she finishes. And if that sounds too simple, remember it’s shorn of her melody. Remember, too, that after Boston, after Waco (again), after Washington D.C. (why ...

Further Explorations: Corea, Gomez, and Motian

Drummer Paul Motian died in New York City in 2011, on the 48th anniversary of John Kennedy’s assassination. He carried one cymbal around with him for the last 30 of his 80 years on Earth, ...

Rosie Flores has something to hide behind

Rosie Flores apologizes for not making her scheduled gig at Queen Bee’s last year, but she got a counteroffer to play with Chuck Berry at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

John Cale's Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood

John Cale is not psychic! (Unless he is.) The man couldn’t have predicted Steve Albini’s second-motioning those mundane haters of Cher’s “Believe”; but he intuited that tipping point where the hip(sters) went (reflexively) bleech at ...

Scott Walker's Bish Bosch

Seventeen years ago I put on Scott Walker’s album Tilt for the first time; the real-life Phantom of the Opera began to sing as I watched a storm overtake a city center, from my picture ...

Aqualung at 40...You Poor Old Sod

The famous title track scared the shit of me as a kid, still alarms me, and was, of course, meant that way. The “aqualung,” I’ve finally decided, signifies the title wino’s capacity to live under ...

Om, by John Coltrane

“It’s very short, as I recall,” said the resident jazz expert in my life, about McCoy Tyner’s piano solo in this half-hour spiritual yearning — recorded in 1965 but not released until 1968, a year ...

Bossa Nova on the Breeze

Fabiana Passoni moves to Oceanside with her triplets.

Miles Davis Live in Europe 1967

So, Wayne Shorter remembers how he’d step up to the mic and the rhythm section — that’s Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on bass, Tony Williams on drums — would mostly or even almost ...

Anton Barbeau's Empire of Potential

So, he's recutting almost everything here even though he didn't lose the rights to his songs to himself — just because he can. That's an Ant man for you. Opener "Losing You Makes Crucifixion Easy" ...

New New Music

UCSD composer, performer, and teacher Christopher Adler talks about San Diego New Music, a local nonprofit.

Richard Meltzer's New Gig

Rock critic Richard Meltzer talks about his former columnist gig at the Reader and his new project with Mike Watt: Spielgusher.

Lawyer's a Sinner

San Diego public defender Tim Riley on the gee-tar.

Me, Myself & I, by Kenny Werner

Technique, writes pianist Kenny Werner in his liner notes, "clears all the brush, so to speak, between the player and his instrument." And I read that at first as "clears off the brush," but I ...

Athens Concert, by Charles Lloyd and Maria Farantouri

Charles Lloyd, American, not only the most lyrical but frankly the most conversational of jazz saxophonists, is a musical orator and curator of quiet fire. Maria Farantouri, well on her way to legend in her ...

Erasure's Tomorrow's World

Key concept for 21st-century Vince (Clarke) & Andy (Bell): convergence. That's right, everything's getting closer together, in the mix, in the lyrics, and not so as to stumble and fall, but so as to stand ...

Boo Boo Davis's Undercover Blues

Yes, his name is Boo Boo, except on legal documents. But the technically James Davis never went to school (or so sayeth his press kit), so he can't read legal documents. So, he's better off ...

Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom

As I've mentioned elsewhere, this music produced a profound spiritual experience wherein I, a proud atheist, felt an overwhelming connection to the One, something beyond space and time, in a perpetual state of being and ...

Ray Charles: Rare Genius

"Alrightfellas, holditrighthere, waitaminute!" That's "Wheel of Fortune," roughly 2:40 in, where the Genius needs to reign in the horns, somewhere in 1972. But that's only an especially fine specimen of the bold yet effortless idiom ...

Charles Tyler's Eastern Man Alone

Note to the warm, dear, swing-dancing friend of mine who lamented, "Charlie Parker killed everything I love": you probably won't listen to this alto-sax/two-upright-basses/one-cello session, but I thought of you. I thought of you since ...

O Moon, Queen of Night on Earth

How badly do we need Jonathan Richman now? After Election 2008, I was ready to say, "Not as much as before," given that the government (at least) no longer promulgated that eight-year Dominant Paradigm of ...

Soundtrack by Modern English

Catching up with a so-called one-hit-wonder band 29 years down the line is a little like checking in on a former beauty-pageant winner or somebody who got kicked by the president. You wonder how (if) ...

Shalini's Magnetic North

Were I the man on the deck at the college radio station, I'd first throw on track two, "Mine As You Ever Were." Not so direct as the opener "One of One," this "Mine" nevertheless ...

Withershins by Smoosh

I hope people don't write off the Smoosh record because it's self-released. Or because it's a mostly web release. Or because it sounds more mainstream than the last two. Or because they're young. Or because ...

Out of the Shadows

She beguiles me. She fascinates me. Her knack for hovering right outside a lyric, desire pressed to the emotion(s) within (a scenario she evinces literally for "Goodbye, Little Yellow Bird") reminds me of no one ...

Psychedelic Mynde of Moses (2010)

Anton Barbeau’s last one, Plastic Guitar, defied most expectations. Specifically, I didn’t expect a pop-monger to get funky courtesy of a few stealth Cake members, and the Jesus thing, while left-field, seemed sincere. Barbeau seems ...

Tift Merritt's See You on the Moon

I went through Tift Merritt's new one while reading John Glatt's Lost and Found — that's the true story of Jayce Lee Dugard, who, should you not recall, was/is the girl kidnapped off the streets ...

OMD: History of Modern

OMD's first album since 1996. The first classic-lineup album since 1986. "New Babies: New Toys" comes in clean like a virtual world sunrise then fuzz-rubbers the bass, toughs up the drums, throws words like "shit" ...