Chris Martins

writer

Biography

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    Fountains of Wayne Play New Tunes at L.A. Tour Stop!

    A truly all-ages crowd -- from wide-eyed preteens to silver-haired hipsters -- packed the Troubadour in West Hollywood on Friday night for the triumphant return of East Coast power poppers Fountains of Wayne, who have just kicked off their U.S. tour.

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    Breaking Out: Semi Precious Weapons

    Two years ago should've been the best time of Justin Tranter's life. His garage-glitter group Semi Precious Weapons scored a record deal with indie Razor & Tie; Kate Moss was seen wearing a piece from the singer's jewelry line, Fetty; and Village Voice readers voted the quartet Best New York City Band. Unfortunately, none of those forward steps resulted in, you know, money."We didn't have one damn cent," says Tranter, 30, who, along with fellow Weapons (and Berklee College of Music alums) guitarist Stevy Pyne, bassist Cole Whittle, and drummer Dan Crean, was evicted from their shared Brooklyn loft when they couldn't cover rent. Had the Chicago native expected success to come sooner? "You're asking the wrong person," says Tranter, laughing.

  • Tricky, 'Mixed Race' (Domino)

    It seems odd that Tricky's self-professed "gangster album" may go down as the polyglot producer's most bland offering yet. Especially considering Mixed Race follows one of his best, 2008's Knowle West Boy. But what that album had in abundance -- loud guitars, noisy electronics, new ideas -- this comparatively minimal one lacks. So whether he's trying on New Orleans jazz ("Early Bird"), spare blues ("Every Day"), boy-girl vamps ("Come to Me"), or Bobby Gillespie's husky vocals ("Really Real"), Tricky sounds vanilla, not the colorful beacon his titular heritage suggests. BUY: Amazon

  • Glasser, 'Ring' (True Panther Sounds/Matador)

    Somewhere, druids are dancing around a circle of stones. That's probably not the ring Glasser, a.k.a. Los Angeles' Cameron Mesirow, had in mind when she titled her debut album, but there's something elemental about her brooding electronic folk. It's in the sharp yelps and clanging drums of "Apply," the Far East chanting and strings heard on "Glad," and the Fever Ray–checking pagan pulse of "Mirrorage." It's also in those nature-obsessed lyrics, delivered in tones so dulcet and hypnotic that the inclination to don a robe and commune with Vespertine-era Björk is overwhelming. BUY: Amazon

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    Breaking Out: Local Natives

    Local Natives keyboardist Ryan Hahn has something to confess about the strange jeers that kick off his eclectic indie-pop band's earworm of a single, "Airplanes," an otherwise bright slice of folksy melody and drumline effervescence. "We give him a hard time a lot," explains Hahn, 24, referring to lead singer Kelcey Ayer, 25, who wrote the song. "When we started working on it, we thought it was gonna be this sentimental, Coldplay-ish thing." So he and his bandmates would boo Ayer during practice, and even snuck into the studio to add their groans to the track. Hahn laughs: "Kelcey's going to kill me for telling you that." By now, the Natives are used to each other's jibes.

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    Queens of the Stone Age Return at L.A. Benefit

    Metal heads, stoners, and hard rock aficionados turned out in droves for the intimate show at Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday night, a benefit for cancer-stricken Eagles of Death Metal bassist Brian O'Connor, which boasted the first Queens of the Stone Age gig in the U.S. since 2008. Jesse Hughes, the mulleted and mustachioed frontman for Eagles of Death Metal, strutted the stage, wearing a gold cape over his a tuxedo T-shirt, sunglasses propped on top of his head, and worked the packed crowd -- reminding everyone of the night's purpose. "We are gonna call upon the power and fury of rock and roll to heal our friend!" he declared with all the bravado of James Brown getting his funky preacher on. "Can you dig it?" Ticket prices ranged from $50 to $250, with all proceeds going O'Connor's recovery via the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund.

  • Terrible Things, 'Terrible Things' (Universal Motown)

    For Terrible Things, former Taking Back Sunday member Fred Mascherino rallies an ex–Coheed and Cambria guitarist and a Hot Rod Circuit alum around a song cycle about the deadly arsons that plagued his Pennsylvania hometown last year. It's ripe subject matter for a proper emo album, and that's mostly what the trio deliver -- the kind of raw, damaged stuff that Jimmy Eat World and Dashboard Confessional traded in before bands like, ahem, TBS came on the scene. It's hardly perfect (see the slick and silly "Conspiracy"), but shredder "Not Alone" approaches Sunny Day territory -- an admirable rollback better suited for these leaner times. BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Sea of Bees, 'Songs for the Ravens' (Crossbill)

    Multi-instrumentalist Julie Baenziger hails from Grandaddy's stomping grounds, California's Central Valley, and like her onetime neighbors, she has an impeccable knack for infusing despair with charm. Her pain is the loveless kind, and she conveys it in a voice equal parts twang and coo, backed by lush country-folk and gossamer bedroom haze. "Skinnybone" sounds like it takes place inside of a music box; "Marmalade" in dense woods on a moonless night. A quick dip into glitch seems like a novice move, but all that slide guitar and glockenspiel give Sea of Bees a seasoned sorrow. BUY:Amazon

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    EXCLUSIVE: New Mayer Hawthorne Video

    L.A.'s leading pale-faced soulster Mayer Hawthorne plays the majority of instruments on his 2009 self-produced debut, A Strange Arrangement, which helps explain why his throwback R&B is still holding listeners' attentions a year later. Also responsible are the songs' playful videos, like the just-released clip for "Your Easy Lovin' Ain't Pleasin' Nothin.'" Watch it below. "It's all one shot, no cuts whatsoever," says co-director Henry DeMaio, who has helmed three other videos for Hawthorne. "We had this concept of a Bob Fosse-style dance number and we started building from there. We did around 15 takes, and the last one is actually the one you see." The clip shows a troupe of swim-suited ladies dancing circles around Hawthorne, who sports a sharp gray suit and sneakers by a pool in the lush hills of L.A. 'burb Alta Dena.

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    Release Party: TVOTR's Dave Sitek as Maximum Balloon

    Monday night, the swanky new Los Angeles installation of NYC's Soho House social club played host to an intimate listening party for the self-titled debut solo album of TV on the Radio guitarist-producer Dave Sitek, aka Maximum Balloon. Sitek, also known for his production work with Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Scarlett Johansson, was in attendance, having moved west recently. But rather than lord over the ceremony from the comfort of one of the ultra-luxe leather seats, he floated within the crowd, mingling while his new album played in the background. Okay, "background" might be the wrong word.

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