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Music Scene Updates!

So, there has been some news since we put together our last post on Gnarwhal’s Record Release party. Let’s get to it:

1. Coral Stabz is more or less through. I spoke with Travis about why the band was breaking up and he said that it was simply because they feel they had explored all they could with the style. When asked if this was the last we’d seen of Coral Stabz, he responded that it was likely they would play their songs again since the two of them are starting two other bands together. I think this is something we can all pin our hopes on.

2. As if the news above wasn’t bad enough, Gnarwhal has declared they only have four more shows remaining. It appears that Erica is planning on moving back to San Francisco, ending the run of this band at its peak. I’ve yet to catch up with Adam and Nick and see what their plans are.

3. New bands! During our four month Chi-To hiatus, it appears that the scene has grown with the addition of many new bands. With titans like Red Rocket, Coral Stabz, and Gnarwhal on the out, it will be interesting to see which of these bands will step up to replace them. And, of course, we’ll be there to report when they do.

With the news out of the way, let’s talk about upcoming shows.

Friday, May 11th at Coffee Talk with Gnarwhal, Shopping List, Mano Cane, Broke Aesthetic, and The Italian Brains. This is an all ages show. Doors open at 7:30 PM and the cover is $7.

Friday, May 11th at ThirtyNineHotel: Kaleidoscope with Gnarwhal and DJs Ross Jackson And Davey Shinding. Yes, this is Gnarwhal’s second show tonight. Starts at 9 PM.

Monday, May 17th at SOHO with Men and Gnarwhal. Gnarwhal’s second to last show! Don’t have any more info, so why don’t you bug Gnarwhal on their Facebook?

Monday, May 17th at Manifest with I Tramonti, Harshist, Illectrix, Siblings, and Pharaohs. I’ve heard great things about Harshist and Siblings are always a good ride. Starts at 7 PM, cover unlikely.

Saturday, May 19th at Mercury: Morrissy After Party with Dead Dead Millies, Travis D Wiggins & The Second Hand Emotions, Stephen Augustin & The Fourth Wall, and DJs Papi Chulo and Haircuts for Men. Travis has this to say about the show: “TIP YR FUCKING BARTENDER AND DON’T CALL HER “BABY” UNLESS YOU WANT TO GET STABBED IN THE FUCKING NECK.” Starts at 9 PM.

Thursday, May 24th at Mercury: Gnarwhal’s last show with Dead Dead Millies, Harshist, Gnarwhal, and DJ Jet Boy/Jet Girl. I wouldn’t miss this one for the world. Doors at 10 PM, but get there early to shower them with goodbye gifts.

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Gnarwhal Record Release Party!

So, we’ve been gone from the scene for a while. Luckily enough for us, we made our comeback at Gnarwhal’s excellent record release party at Mercury on Saturday.

Siblings opened us up. I was sad to see that Jacoby Young is not longer on bass for the four man punk band, but Erik Oseto seems to have picked up the part well.

Next up was new band Brainplane with Alex Nagata on drums and mohawked Miller Royer on guitar. They played an interesting smooth, chilled out sound that was easy to groove to. I’m not sure about having them behind Siblings, however, as I was so pumped that it was hard to click into the groove.

Oldies style surf punk band Coral Stabz went on third and quickly made the announcement that this was their second to last show. This gave me a sad face, but the frown was turned upside down by their always excellent dirty rock.

Finally, Gnarwhal was up. As we said in our Year End Lists, this band is rocketing  to the top of the China Town scene. That this was their record release show only supports that idea. The band rocked and rolled through what seemed to be every song they had on tap, their levels being micromanaged by one of the Mercury staff. They’ve never sounded better. They played new songs, old ones, and a pit opened up, engulfing the greater portion of the bar. Crowd surfing was all around. After well over an hour of glorious rock, everyone was tired, sweaty, and jovial, having experienced what might have been Gnarwhal’s best show yet.

A quick trip to the merch area (something I’m exceedingly pleased to see becoming a norm at these shows) and we netted the record, every color possible of their new buttons, and an awesome cassette sticker. While we were there, we also picked up some Siblings stickers and buttons. Now, if only I can ever remember to wear these things…

To see more pictures of the event, check out the Flickr. And, as always, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Years End List! (Part 5: The End of the End)

Okay, here it is: the last vestiges of 2011. I hope you’ve enjoyed our run down of the year Spin Magazine called the Great Big No. Here’s to a better 2012!

Top Five Honolulu Shows I Attended

5. Ramblin’ for Raegan: This show was amazing. While we didn’t cover it here at HEP, L did at her own blog. The event was for the charity of Raegan, a five year old girl who tragically lost her father a month prior. Narwhal rocked the house and it was the first time we saw Discord & Rye doing their sexy thing. Ong King is a great space for a show and the art that was up was an excellent time filler between bands.

4. At Sea Returns: At Sea, a post-rock band that had been on hiatus for four years, returned in a big way in July. Supported by the equally awesome “space rock” band Clones of the Queen, they packed thirtyninehotel fuller than any show I’d seen before or have seen since. This was certainly a special performance that I’d have been loathe to miss.

3. Young Fangs Anna’s Show: This show was actually a surprise. We hadn’t seen Narwhal for almost a month and went to hit up their first show back. That show happened to also be the final one in a mini-tour for the Alaskan Indie band Young Fangs. Add Siblings and campfire to the bill and you have yourself an excellent evening.

2. Black Square CD Release Party: If you’ve been keeping up with these lists, then you’d know that I listed Black Square as the fourth best band I heard this year. This show was where that all began. The epic four hour show included sets by Upstanding Youth, Raised By Wolves, Narwhal, and, of course, the China Town powerhouses. It had everything you want in a release party: crazy performances, merch of every variety, dancing, and alcohol. Much alcohol. I think my body was running on beer alone since I sweated all the water out in the mosh pit that opened up.

1. Halloween Party at White Tiger Lounge/Orphanage/Dollhouse: Before October 30, 2011, I thought I knew what a house show was. On that night, however, everything I had ever attended before began to look like Uncle Fred with a guitar at the family reunion. Siblings and Narwhal turned a quaint living room into a battleground full of screaming, jumping, moshing characters in various stages of costume. The brightest moment for me was actually captured on tape by Travis. “Tell Me” is, bar none, my favorite song to hear live. We did it harder and crazier than we ever will again. Having this much fun should be illegal.

 

Well, that’s it folks. Thank you for a wonderful 2011. Let’s all hope the world doesn’t end before we can do more of these lists next year!

Year End List! (Part 4)

January 4th isn’t a statistically fancy day…

UNTIL NOW. Year End List! Part 4 is much more positive than yesterday’s. Savor it, as there is only one more to go.

Top Five Best Music Videos

5. “Blow” by Ke$ha: Ke$ha may represent all that’s terrible with pop music, but this video is pure gold. James Van Der Beek gets dissed, a laser fight breaks out of nowhere, and unicorns bleed rainbows. Let me say that last part again: unicorns bleed rainbows. Let’s forget how terribly creepy they are and all have a good laugh over their deaths.

4.  “Short Lived” by Siblings: Travis D Wiggins is a Renaissance Man. He DJs, is one half of Coral Stabz (as well as other projects), and makes lovely music videos. This gem is by far the scene’s best video of the year, featuring everyone’s favorite lovable punk band, Siblings, in hand drawn stop motion animation. That Short Lived is also one of my favorite punk tracks of the year doesn’t hurt, either. Check out some of Travis’ other work on YouTube.

3. “The Creep” by The Lonely Island: SNL offspring The Lonely Island were one of the biggest success stories of 2010 after reminding the world that comedy music can also be great listening. Continuing this on their second album, Turtleneck & Chain, the trio gave us songs about sex (especially involving mothers), Jack Sparrow, and the Golden Rule. The Creep stands out, however, for giving us possibly the greatest dance move ever. Bonus points for getting Nicki Minaj to go for first base with a corpse.

2. “Party Rock Anthem“/”Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO: Although they also made our more dubious list, LMFAO still blew away 2011. “Party Rock Anthem” came out of nowhere in March and took over clubs and pop radio stations. Party songs are great, but only one is so great that it turns otherwise normal hipsters into shufflin’ zombies. “Sexy and I Know It” successfully built upon the catchy-dance-beat-plus-cool-dance-circles and upped the ante with speedos. Lady Gaga may have been Born This Way, but I submit that dancing around in a banana hammock next to “The Hedgehog” was the real show of positive body image.

1. “Simple Math” by Manchester Orchestra: I only very recently came in contact with this absolutely fantastic music video. I am a real sucker for good cinematography (which most music videos lack) and “Simple Math” has some of the best I’ve seen. To be able to tell the story of a whole life of heartache and pain in five minutes is seriously impressive, especially with the use of Inception-style memories-in-memories, all tied together by a terrible accident and wonderfully powerful song.

Yeah End List! (Part 3)

Hope everyone’s fully recovered from their hangovers because it’s time for list number three!:

Top Five Most Annoying Songs

5. “Red Solo Cup” by Toby Keith: I love parties and, by extension, songs about parties. Andrew W. K. would approve, I’m sure. But, even that love cannot save this terrible song that is, literally, about a plastic cup, albeit a lovably crimson one. And it’s sung by Toby Keith, the Michele Bachmann of country.

4. “Champagne Showers” by LMFAO: The geniuses behind the smash hit that made shufflin’ more popular than any zombie move ever could quickly followed up with this more sanguine video. The song is boring and obnoxious, with the only saving grace being fifteen seconds of bubbly carnage. While not the worst song in it’s own right, “Champagne Showers” should have been so much better. The let down was palpable.

3. Anything dubstep ever: Dubstep (especially of the “Brostep” variety) was everywhere this year. It seems every pop artist sold their soul to the wobble gods and there wasn’t a club or ‘party’ radio station that didn’t blast this stuff. I’ll admit that I’ve enjoyed some dubstep this year, but, like “The Middle” or Angry Birds, the oversaturation of the genre has ruined any more enjoyment I could have had. Cyanide and Happiness said it right.

2. “Hold it Against Me” by Britney Spears: Yes, I understand this is somewhat redundant with number 3, but this song was so bad that it deserved special recognition. I’ll start off by saying that, despite my general disdain for pop music, I am glad that Britney Spears is back with the (mostly) sane world and not off shaving her head. That said, “Hold it Against Me” is, chiefly, a song entirely about the worst pickup line known to man (scientific fact) and most of the lyrics are comprised of slightly-better-but-still-terrible lines. The club douchebags don’t need any help, Brit. And don’t even get me started on the music video with it’s rampant product placement, Lady Gaga wannabe fashion, and digitally enhanced boobage. Even the bosom isn’t safe from this monstrosity.

1. “Friday” by Rebecca Black: This one is a no brainer. This song of epic lyrics about eating cereal and choosing a seat in a car driven by a middle schooler was also the number one viewed video on YouTube. First week sales of the song topped 40,000 and it received extensive air time. Rebecca Black has become a celebrity, gone on tours, started a record label, and starred in a Katy Perry video. That the worst, most annoying song of the year is also one of the most successful exemplifies all that is wrong with pop culture. And, yes, I did catch myself singing that damn song in the shower.

Year End List! (Part 2)

Congratulations, it’s January 2nd, 2012! Here’s another list:

Top Five Bands Kendle Listened to For the First Time

5. Black Lips: I first heard this Atlanta, GA based garage rock band on the Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World soundtrack. Little did I know that “O Katrina!“, despite it’s snappy buzz, was fairly tame as compared to the drug-fueled decadence that was the rest of 500 Million Thousand. And I loved every minute of it. Good, Bad, Not Evil, their previous, more critically acclaimed album, was fueled by more of surf rock sound, though still tinged with the dirty, DIY, sound that made them authorities on the garage rock scene in “New Garage Explosion!“.

4. Black SquareJosh86 is a pillar in Chi-To culture, and his band Black Square is one of the scene’s best bands. Their solid ska-punk sound is always exciting and their wonderful stage presence makes sitting on the sidelines near impossible. Every show, they rock out like they’re playing their biggest, whether to ten people or a hundred, and that energy is damned infectious. We’ve blogged about Black Square on a few occasions, but no amount of praise can overstate their quality as musicians and performers. And, after ten mainland tours, two compilations, and four albums, that quality can only continue to bring them more well-deserved success.

3. The Black Keys: Even before their 2010 release of  Brothers, this Akron, OH band was everywhere. Movies, commercials, and radio stations of every stripe have all bought into the blues rock duo. Normally, the hipster in me would want to eschew them for this rampant commercialization but, honestly, their music is just too f’in good. I picked up the aforementioned Brothers a few months ago and am constantly impressed by how pop-catchy they can make songs that are best suited for a dingy, smoke-filled bar where real men shoot whiskey and the mob has a stake. To get a taste, check out “Tighten Up” and “Next Girl“.

2. Mumford & Sons: The first band on this list not of a ‘black’ variety is also the best Americana band that isn’t American. Following their 2010 success of Sigh No More, this four person British group led by the titular Marcus Mumford were 2011’s counterpoint to the electronic domination of dubstep, making sometimes rambunctious, and always lovely, music involving accordions, mandolins, and dobros. Their songs are deep, meaningful, and, really, honest, capturing the everyman’s sense of love and pain. My personal favorite is certainly “Winter Winds

1. (G)NARWHAL: 2011, above all else, was the year I went from a hapless young soldier wandering around Waikiki to blogging about Honolulu happenings. The catalyst? A band named Narwhal. The three-piece’s crazy shows put me on a scavenger hunt around China Town and the greater Honolulu area, introduced me to many wonderful people I now count as friends, and, most obviously, gave me something to do on almost every night of the week (Sunday’s a total wash, though).

With an original sound that has elements of surf, punk, and old school rock and roll, (G)Narwhal (I think they’re in the process of picking up the ‘G’) has had great year. They celebrated their banniversary in May, recorded and released their second EP, Phases, in November, and had a successful mini-tour in San Francisco that same month. Their performances have consistently one-upped themselves, from the original “Lies” to “Tell Me” list with a handful of us bobbing in the front to the raging moshes that now erupt on the first song of their sets. Erica has improved as a vocalist, now utilizing much more of her range, as well as her stage presence. Nick has refined his guitar work into the now recognizable ‘Nick Ayakawa‘ style, proving that he is one of the scene’s best guitarists. And Adam, a drummer who’s speed and endurance were already a thing to admire, has provided a vivid backdrop in all of their new songs for his comrades to enliven with melody.

Besides their improvements as individuals, (G)Narwhal has really come together as a band. Instead of sitting on their hands and being content to play the same Cow Belly songs every other week or so, they spent much of 2011 writing new material, practicing, and playing shows often. Their chemistry has never been better and they are truly on the up.

So, here’s to you, (G)Narwhal. You were my favorite new band of the year 2011. Let’s all hope that 2012 can see you continue your rise to the top.

Year End List! (Part 1)

Happy New Year! Of course, kids, it’s time for those lovable Year End Lists where one person decides everything that was great during the whole year and everyone else can complain about how wrong they are. This year, we’re going to stop complaining and undertake the surprisingly difficult lists ourselves.

Here’s how this is going to work: We’re going to do five ‘Top Five’ lists spaced out over five days; one today, one tomorrow, and so on. These lists  have all been painstakingly compiled by Kendle with L in an advisory/veto role. So, without further ado:

Top Five Biggest Music News Stories

5. White Stripes Abruptly Break Up: Despite Jack White’s heavy commitment to  the Raconteurs and Dead Weather, news of the White Stripes’ sudden breakup seemly came out of nowhere and was a terrible birthday present for Kendle. Lucky for us fans, they are going to continue releasing vault songs for years to come. And, unlike Tupac, it won’t be all creepy and beyond the grave.

4. LCD Soundsystem Finish Their Run: In an epic, once-in-a-lifetime concert, LCD Soundsystem completed their promised time as a band, ending a ten year career that saw James Murphy, a 41 year old producer and co-founder of DFA Records, become a beacon of cool. There has never been a show Kendle wanted to attend more. Check out some of the videos on Youtube to see why.

3. Arcade Fire Wins Grammy: At the 53rd Grammys, Arcade Fire took the Best Album of the Year award. The Internet took a collective shit. Who Is Arcade Fire? was the outcry as many blogs, tweets, and Facebook posts wondered why Eminem, Lady GaGa, and Katy Perry lost out to the Pitchfork-loved Canadian Indie band. Even the band was surprised.

2. Amy Winehouse’s Death: Amy Winehouse, the soulful pop singer that electrified the world in 2006 with six Grammy awards, died of alcohol poisoning 23 July, joining the infamous 27 Club. While she had been in and out of rehab centers for years (and famously singing about it), her death still came as a shock to many, including some local soul singers who put together a tribute concert in August.

1. Occupy Wall Street: While not technically a music story, the Occupy Wall Street protest (and Occupy Movement it spawned) was, and continues to be, so large that it crept into every corner of our society, including pop culture. Many musicians have supported it, sometimes staging whole concerts to keep morale high. Moreover, the protests have pulled public attention back towards the political realities of the US and abroad, prompting a more focused debate about economic equality and corporate influence in government.