Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Next Great American Band: Final Three

This was a sad week for me as we had to bid adieu to the lil metalheads, Light of Doom. No, I didn't think they deserved to win, but I sure did enjoy watching them rock out. I can only hope that when I see Iron Maiden at the forum next month, these kids will be the opening act. I'd cut my tailgating short for that.

Denver and the Mile High Orchestra - "September" / "Vehicle" / "The Way You Move Me"

Every week I call them a wedding band and nothing changed this week. I will admit their original was pretty catchy.

The Clark Brothers - "Change the World" / "Amazed" / "This Little Light of Mine"

My usual complaint about these guys is that Ashley is overly intense on every song, when intensity isn't always called for, and that was the case on "Change the World." I also felt they lost the melody a bit during their exploration. I liked the rockin' version of "This Little Light of Mine" but I wonder if the boys will lose some of their teen and tween vote for revealing that the dreamboat singer Ashley is married with a kid. There's no question these guys are the most original and talented band left in the competition, and they deserve to win.

Six Wire - "Reelin' in the Years" / "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight" / "Good to Be Back"

These were all good song choices for this band, and their original tune "Good to be Back" is really catchy and deserves to be a hit. Their usual good harmonies and sex appeal were in full effect on the cover tunes, and the stripped down version of "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight" would win the singer a booty call from many gals in the audience, I'm sure.


Honestly, I'm pretty bored with this show as you can see from my late blogging, but if The Clark Brothers don't win this thing, I'll definitely be shocked and dismayed.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Very Mandisa Christmas

I guess I am more like The Griswolds than Martha Stewart when it comes to Christmas. If one poinsettia is festive, than a church altar decorated with 10,000 poinsettias must be cheerier. Gloria in excess, baby.

This was my first Christmas without my dad, who passed away in May, and the first Christmas that I didn't go to a Catholic mass. Those two things probably aren't coincidental. Still, I didn't feel like I could be totally secular about this holiday, so to break myself out of my blah humbug state, I decided to drive 30 miles to deepest Orange County to see an American Idol sing for free. Yes, I attended the Christmas Eve
"Hour of Power" at the Crystal Cathedral. I wasn't looking to be saved, but I was looking for some amazing Christmas tuneage and seasonal cheer beyond what I could find in spiked eggnog. The ginormous glass temple did not disappoint.

The Cathedral had, like, six Christmas Eve services, one after the other, all officiated by Rev. Robert H. Schuller and his son Rev Robert A. Schuller (famous to non-evangelicals as
the dad of one of the Laguna Beach girls). I attended the 6pm service which was broadcast on TV. The altar was fully decked with poinsettias and trees, and fake snow fell just like at neighboring Disneyland. There were a variety of musical performances - a full orchestra, impressive piano solo by octogenarian Roger Williams, a children's choir, and several soloists including American Idol's Mandisa. Mandisa was brought out for the finale, and she belted "Oh Holy Night" with enough verve and passion to convert Anton LaVey. Mandisa looked stunning, with perfect hair and makeup, and she radiated brightly enough to charm those of us way up in the rafters. I wished she had been able to sing more than one song, but, hey, there were lots of Christians in line outside waiting for the next service. I pictured her hanging out in the green room all day, listening to Jordin Sparks on her ipod, confirming tour details with George Huff, waiting for the call to sing "Oh Holy Night" every 90 minutes.

Thankfully, the service was long on music and short on preaching. The younger Schuller read the relevant gospel passages about Jesus' birth, and the octogenarian Schuller gave a slightly discombobulated yet oddly charming five-minute sermon which included the malapropism: "Just because you don't believe in Jesus doesn't mean he loves you anyway." This was great, as I got a dose of Catholic guilt and was reminded of every Christmas mass I ever attended where the priest would invariably say, "It's nice seeing the church so full today - you know, you are all welcome to come every week not just today and Easter, wink wink nudge nudge."

If you find yourself in need of a little Christmas spirit, right this very minute, or next year, I definitely recommend attending the Crystal Cathedral's Christmas Eve service or its spectacular "Glory of Christmas" show. The service is free, but the "Glory of Christmas" costs money - but then it's got live animals and Cirque de Christianity angels that swoop down from the rafters. It runs til January 5th.

Or you can pick up Mandisa's Christmas EP. It's gotta be better than Clay's Christmas album.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Merry Titmas, Baby

On Saturday night, I stopped by the opening reception for Lenora Claire's new breast-themed art show "Merry Titmas" at the World of Wonder gallery, 6650 Hollywood Blvd.

As these photos show, it was quite the scene, and the crowd was at times more interesting than the art. There was a photo booth on hand which captured more fabulosity.

This is a follow-up show to Lenora's wildly popular "Golden Girls Gone Wild" (click at your own risk - not work safe!) show from this past Fall, and while I missed that show, I'd say this one is worth a stop if you're in the neighborhood, though maybe not worth a special trip. There are a few standout pieces, but the overall effect reminded me of a high school art show (though I don't know what high school teacher would assign something so boob-centric to his/her pupils). Maybe I was just looking around at all the elaborately-costumed guests and some of the amateurish art and thinking back to my high school art student self, who liked to walk around in a tacky trench coat covered in peace signs, in some sort of desperate plea for attention or attempt to make a statement that I was too shy to verbalize, while painting really bad oil paintings depicting nuclear holocausts. Yes, maybe it's me.

Once I snapped out of this horrifying flashback, I checked out the art and found a few pieces that stood out. I liked a collage of Farrah Fawcett, made up of tiny magazine photo clippings. I got a chuckle from the topless Facts of Life girls (although Natalie seemed a bit too petite - perhaps some kind airbrushing?), and dug the topless-enhanced record covers of The Sound of Music (those hills are indeed alive!) and Dolly Parton. There are also two large, gorgeous photographs of Lenora Claire, the hostest with the mostest, whose ample boobage was precariously ensconced in a gravity-defying bustier. The pink boobie fountain is fun, too. Oh, and the Nativity painting with Mary as a Hooters waitress is hotter than a spicy wing.

Some proceeds from the show are being donated to the Susan G. Komen breast cancer fund, so there's some tithing going on along with all the titillation. The show runs through December 31.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Next Great American Band: Queen Week

Ahh, a reality music show doing Queen! This brings back great American Idol memories of Kelly Pickler and Constantine Maroulis doing "Bohemian Rhapsody". The final four got to perform one Queen tune and one original.


The Clark Brothers - "These are the Days of Our Lives" / "Homestead"

The boys took Dicko's advice and added a guitarist and drummer for a fuller sound. I didn't recognize the Queen song, but I liked it. The overall sound reminded me more of Poi Dog Pondering than bluegrass. Their original was catchy but not particularly special, and once again I felt like the singer, Ashley, was trying too hard to be intense on a song that didn't call for it. Still, this band is clearly the front runner.

Light of Doom - "We Will Rock You" / "A Matter of Time"

The kids tried to speed up the Queen tune and it turned out sounding a bit muddled and rushed. Eric seemed to have trouble keeping up with the vocals, and the judges panned them. The original was good and heavy, but the judges felt it lacked a hook and thought perhaps it was too reminiscent of influences. I would say it did sound a lot like Iron Maiden - not that that's a bad thing.

Six Wire - "Fat Botomed Girls" / "Go On"

This was a good song choice for the competition's remaining bar band, and they gave a solid if not particularly original performance of it. These guys do have some sex appeal, and they worked it on this tune. Their original tune had a nice hook and was likable even on a first listen. I have to admit this band is growing on me.

Denver and the Mile High Orchestra - "Sleepin' on the Sidewalk" / "Big White House"

I was hoping to see Denver emerge in a white cat suit, but no, just the usual boring blazer and jeans look. A cat suit would have made this a little less boring. They picked a Queen song I didn't know and made it sound like a mid-80s Billy Joel song. Their original wasn't any better, but I feel this band is teflon and talking trash about them won't make any difference. Whoever is home watching this on Friday nights and voting - old ladies and kids - is way into this band. Those of us watching it later on Tivo are powerless to stop them.

Kicked Off

Dot Dot Dot

I'll miss these fashion victims and the new wave spin they'd put on songs, as well as the muscled guitar work by Rose and schizoid performances of frenetic front man Adam. I think they could have a future, and a couple of their originals were radio-ready.


I have a feeling Light of Doom will be leaving next week, due to bad reviews from the judges and representing a less popular genre than the other remaining bands. Of course, I'd much rather see Denver go, but I know better than to predict it.

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The Next Great American Band: Rod Stewart Week

I'm getting tired of this show, and still bummed that Cliff Wagner got booted last week, so having to endure an hour of Rod Stewart songs is a real test for me. Ugh.


Dot Dot Dot - "Young Turks"

I dug it. I thought it was frenetic but cool, and I really like Adam as a frontman even if the judges always slam him.

Denver and the Mile High Orchestra - "Baby Jane"

I don't have anything more to say about them. I just don't know who is voting for them. They are such a wedding band - nothing more - and they are too squeaky clean for the rock songs they are forced to play on this show.

Six Wire - "Hot Legs"

A solid performance but they don't often elevate themselves over a typical bar band, and in this case they were typical.

Clark Brothers - "You're in My Heart"

I know everybody loves these guys, but I just find Ashley to be overly-earnest in his vocals. He looks constipated because he tries so hard to wring every emotion of the song. Sometimes it's more appropriate than others. I can't take much away from these guys, though, because they are great musicians and certainly the class of the competition.

Light of Doom - "Infatuation"

This was a good song choice. I guess I think that because it's one of the few Rod songs I actually like. Eric's vocals were better and the judges noticed. He admitted he's been taking singing lessons - way to go, kid!

Kicked Off

Tres Bien

I'm not too surprised but a little sad to see these guys go. Their retro nerd rock was infectious and the frontman was very entertaining and had a lot of range. Like Cliff, I think they might have been at a disadvantage due to lacking in sex appeal.

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The Next Great American Band: The Rolling Stones Week


Tres Brien - "Get Off Of My Cloud"

I like the front man - he's got a harmless swagger, but he's fun.

Denver and the Mile High Orchestera - "I'm Fine"

They picked a song I didn't know and they delivered it sans sex appeal and edge, very un-Stones-ian. The world doesn't need another Huey Lewis and the News.

Six Wire - "The Last Time"

I didn't know the song. They're a very capable band but still strike me as dime a dozen.

Light of Doom - "Jumpin' Jack Flash"

Good job making the song harder and thus making it their own. The kids are having fun, and so am I, watching them. Singer Eric is a bit out of his league at this point - I think he needs lessons and time to become a true lead singer.

Clark Brothers - "Gimme Shelter"

This was a great, visceral rendition of the song. Ashley, the lead singer, alwasy connects emotionally with the songs, though sometimes I feel he overdoes it and chews the scenery a bit. His wrenching facial expressions suited this song.

Dot Dot Dot - "Let's Spend the Night Together"

Great vocal performance by Adam, and the band was sexy overall. Guitarist Rose also has star quality. Fun and feisty.

Going Home

Cliff Wagner and the Old Number 7

I really liked Cliff and thought he brought something fresh to the show. I think the band was maybe too homely for TV, or too unhip. Perhaps there was just too much competition in the bluegrass/country field with the better-looking Six Wire and the more-talented Clark Brothers. I would love to sit back with a bucket of Budweisers and watch Cliff in a little dive bar someday.

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