New Music, Riots and Death from Above 1979


Finding out one of your favorite bands has just put out a new album is one of life’s true joys. (Hearing that your all-time favorite band is putting out a new album after 18 years is even better). It’s one of the few consistent pleasures that hasn’t changed as I’ve aged even if the format of that new music has evolved from album to tape to cd to mp3 to digital stream. It’s a feeling that used to only be matched by having a new console game to play and conquer, but sadly, with a 1 and 4 year old, the hours required to play long, immersive video games like Mass Effect, Halo and the like has had to be sacrificed due to the time required. That said, I’m happy to say that if my 4 year old’s interest in Lego Batman on the XBOX is any indication, I will very soon be passing my well earned title of the “The Wizard” to him, and in the process restarting my illustrious (Sega Hockey Dorm Champ ’93!) gaming career.

This week, after a 10 year hiatus (though, they have been touring together again for a few years) Death from Above 1979 just released a new album. With them only producing one real album and with a decade having passed, I was concerned it would frankly suck ass. But I’m happy to report that it’s pretty great. They’ve evolved a little bit (as well they should) but the hard-driving “dance punk” sound is still there. And it is a sound like no one else. My favorite tracks after the first few listens are Trainwreck 1979, White is Red (pretty accessible for DFA) and Cheap Talk:

If you have no idea who they are, “DFA” are a two piece band, with Jesse Keeler on guitars and Sebastien Grainger on lead vocals and drums. Their first (and only until now) full length album is called “You’re a Woman, I’m A Machine” which got really great buzz and reviews ten years ago. I was lucky enough to see them at SXSW in the early aughts and have been a fan since. And even though I’m chubby now, they were my workout listen for many, many years as that album is loud, fast paced and just relentless. For a taste, one of my favorite tracks from that album:

But soon after exploding on the scene they unexpectedly broke up, but retained a mythical quality with a cultish following.

There was little hope for them to ever play together again.

Until…in 2011, they played an unannounced (but known to many) reunion show at SXSW in Austin at the Beauty Bar. Crazily, I just happened to not only be at that particular South by Southwest Music Festival but at the Beauty Bar itself that night, and watched a few bands earlier on the big outdoor patio (one featuring a crazy marching band that was wandering around that year). Near midnight I went inside to watch one of my favorite DJs Daedelus and also to hear Tokimonsta, another LA DJ, live for the first time.

After Tokimonsta (who was great, and got bigger afterward) and right before Daedelus came on, I tried to go out back and see who was playing…but the bouncer told me “in or out!” and that I couldn’t go back outside, unless I wanted to join the huge, and growing line to see DFA (who I discouraging finally found out was playing). The crowd was massive, and I didn’t seem to have much hope to get in so I made the call to stay inside and watch Daedelus.

Unbeknownst to me, as I bobbed my head and drank jack and coke’s inside, there was a full-fledged riot right going on out back not long after Death from Above came on stage. I was always bummed I missed the songs they did play, but have no doubt I would have been tased by cops on horses had I been on the other side of the wall where this was all occurring.

Because, you know, that kind of stuff happens to me.

So I’m happy Death From Above 1979 is back in force. And I can’t wait to see them live, at my own speed, announced and minus the tasing.

Judge Judy and Executioner


Last week, after a few postponements, it was finally my week to check the LA Superior Court website each night and see if I had jury duty the following morning. Each night I’d press the button and mentally (and sometimes actually) squint like I was diffusing a bomb in The Hurt Locker. On Thursday night, […]

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‘Brands aren’t people. And if they were, they’d hate ads too.’

My article for Digiday controversially titled “Brands aren’t people. And if they were, they’d hate ads too.” was posted on August 15th. Very happy with how it turned out and more importantly how much discussion and sharing it generated. It was actually the most shared article for that publication last week. Most times I’ve limited […]

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