Tuesday, May 30, 2017
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The Presidents want your vote this year

Just when you thought you were stuck with this president for the next four years, you might want to look at the three candidates you should've voted for but punched the wrong chad.

All three members of the band formerly known as The Presidents of the United States of America -- Dave Dederer (bass/guitar/vocals), Chris Ballew (guitar/bass/vocals) and Jason Finn (drums) -- are now back together, simply going by The Presidents.

They might not have the answers to all your burning political questions, but they definitely have their post-election party planned, bringing you what could have been the most promising platform of the election: music that makes you laugh.

The Presidents have always been remembered for their clever song-writing and tunes you could never get out of your head. The Grammy-nominated Presidents previously released two full-length records on Columbia.

Their most recent release, ""Freaked Out and Small,"" hit stores nationwide in September. This latest project has a number of new twists but still maintains the band's original sensibility.

For this album, The Presidents didn't rehearse the songs. They went into the studio, learned the songs, and then recorded them right on the spot, taking only three months to wrap up the entire recording process. The pure musical talent and energy created by this unique environment is evident on the 12-track compilation.

""We just have some kind of magic when we play together,"" Dederer stated. ""I can't describe it, can't define it, and I don't think any of us can take credit for it. It's just plain dumb luck to find that kind of synchronicity, and it shouldn't be trifled with.""

""Freaked Out and Small"" is The Presidents' first full release since 1996. The new album is a strange mix of what you would expect to hear from The Presidents plus something similar to the sound of punky pop rock bands like ""The Mr. T Experience."" The Presidents' first single, ""Tiny Explosions,"" is heavily guitar driven and more rock than comedy.

The lyrics are not quite as ridiculous as previous releases but they definitely make up for it with their new focus on the music. Five strings and half of a drum kit are all The Presidents ever needed to make their insanely catchy pop ditties.

But don't think they've lost their funny bone, because tracks such as ""Jazz Guy"" and ""Jupiter"" still make you laugh and remind you why this band is so great. The new album really shows some growth for the band.

You can tell they wanted to come back strong, sounding a little different but still keeping the comedy act. Their music is fun, they have more ability with half of the equipment, and they remind us that those other presidents take themselves way too seriously.

The Hiatus Calendar


The Black Eyed Peas will perform at the Belly Up Tavern at 9 p.m. Tickets are $17.50 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster by calling (619) 220-8497.


Chris Calloway is the daughter of swing music legend Cab Calloway and will perform at UCSD's Mandeville Auditorium. Calloway is singer, dancer and bandleader and she will lead the Hi-De-Ho Orchestra and Dancers through some of her father's arrangements. Tickets are $22 and can be purchased through the UCSD Box Office or through Ticketmaster by calling (619) 220-8497. The show starts at 7:30 p.m.

UCSD graduate Chris Kilch and the Chris Kilch Jazz Quintet will perform at Dizzy's in downtown San Diego. Kilch will be featured on alto and tenor sax, clarinet and flute. The show starts at 8:45 p.m. and tickets are $8. Call (858) 270-7467 for ticket information.


Countervail along with Give Until Gone, Curl Up And Die and Kareen will play at the Che Cafe at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $5. Call (858) 534-2311 for ticket information.

Jam band Clyde's Ride will perform at the Belly Up Tavern. The show starts at 9:15 p.m. and tickets are $7. Call Ticketmaster for more information at (619) 220-8497.


A Martin Luther King Jr. Day Memorial Concert will be held at Mandeville Auditorium. The UCSD Gospel Choir, under director Ken Anderson, will perform spirituals and gospels in celebration of King. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets range from $3 to $5. Call (858) 534-3229 for ticket information.


Touring behind their recent release, ""Jupiter,"" Cave In will perform at the Che Cafe with other hardcore acts The Thrones, Durga and Secret Fan Club. The show starts at 8 p.m. Call (858) 534-2311 for ticket information.


Gregory Isaacs will perform his smooth reggae groove at 4th & B. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $16.50. Call Ticketmaster for tickets at (619) 220-8497.


Metal band Fear Factory will show off their evolving metal sound at Cane's Bar & Grill. Their new album incorporates computer technology for a new groove but with a distinctively metal sound. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $15. To buy tickets call Ticketmaster at (619) 220-8497.

Review: Album

""Blur: The Best Of""
EMI Records


After six albums and more than a handful of hit songs, Blur has finally released ""Blur: The Best Of."" The album provides 18 tracks of Blur and their growth from their 1991 release, ""Leisure,"" through their most recent release in 1999, ""13.""

For those of you whose knowledge of Blur doesn't go beyond the techno-casino sounds of ""Girls & Boys"" and the familiar ""Whoo-Hooo!"" of ""Song 2,"" then this album will open your eyes to the music that is distinctively Brit-pop.

Blur was first known as Seymour and started out playing their style of art-punk in various places around London in the late '80s. In 1989 they changed their name to Blur, signed to Food Records and released ""Leisure,"" which included hits like ""She's So High"" and ""There's No Other Way.""

""Modern Life is Rubbish"" was released in 1993 and it pioneered the Brit-pop sound of the early- to mid-1990s. The lush My Bloody Valentine-esque guitar work with Beatles-esque harmonies and the use of string and brass sections achieved a witty collection of songs.

Their first No. 1 album, ""Parklife,"" continued Blur's collection of hit songs including ""Girls & Boys"" and gave them four Brit Awards.

With the release of their next album, ""The Great Escape,"" Blur became part of a media-created rivalry with Oasis. ""The Great Escape"" reached No. 1 in the British charts and sold 1 million copies in Britain.

Their self-titled album, ""Blur"" was released early in 1997 and they were instantly known stateside with their two-minute hit simply titled, ""Song 2.""

""Song 2"" also found its way into commercials, movies and other promos. Largely ignored were songs like ""M.O.R."" and ""Beetlebum.""

Their most recent studio album, ""13,"" was lyrically direct and emotional with beautiful musical textures. Blur songwriter Damon Albarn wrote about his painful break-up with Elastica's Justine Frischmann and used the brilliance of William Orbit to produce the album.

Their ""best of"" album collects all of the songs that define Blur and their career. Classics such as ""Parklife"" and ""Charmless Man"" are included with the light melodies of ""Country House"" and ""To the End."" The bonus disc includes 10 songs from their concert at Wembley Arena.

""Blur: The Best Of"" is a fantastic way to open your eyes to more than just the American radio hits and it's a great way to start the foundation of your Blur collection.

Review: Albums

Amy Correia

Carnival Love



""Carnival Love"" sounds a little like one of Lilith Fair's smaller stage acts revisited. Amy Correia's poetic, fresh lyrics are perhaps the only saving grace in this selection of otherwise static boardwalk songs.

She establishes a somber carnival atmosphere on the opening track, ""Angels Collide."" Hawaiian guitars and Correia's half-sober voice provide a folksy feel to many of the tracks, especially ""He Drives It,"" a humorous take on unrequited love. A couple of exceptions -- the more upbeat ""Daydream Car"" and ""The Bike"" -- flirt with pop potential. Otherwise, the album rarely rises above the tone of a slightly flustered little girl.

-- Charlene Perez

The Wallflowers




The Wallflowers are back into their comfortable, sulky rock style. As the follow-up to 1996's ""Bringing Down the Horse,"" the new album stays true to the mellow movement that made the band famous; there are no new tricks.

In Wallflower fashion, laid-back guitars play second string to Jakob Dylan's soft voice, and the band's good-tempered alternative sound plays second string to Dylan's somber lyrics. In ""Hand Me Down,"" Dylan sounds like the frustrated son of a demanding father -- almost certainly a song directed at his real-life, rock icon father. ""I've Been Delivered"" offers the album's first sign of optimism, even though a majority of its lyrics play to a dark atmosphere.

Dylan humbly sings his dreary lyrics over a backdrop of sympathetic guitars throughout the album, but, in its own bleak way, his musical expression is resolved and satisfying.

-- Charlene Perez

Bang, Sizzle, Stomp!

What an amazing show! Call me easily entertained, but I never would have thought it could be so fun to watch a group of people hit a variety of household items together to make music. The original beats and rhythms of each person, done together, produced such a unique form of song. It was great to witness the interactions of the performers, each holding his own character, which developed throughout the show.

The assortment of items used as instruments made the show fun and appealing, while the dancing, incorporated with the making of the music, made it impossible to look away. I was interested and astounded from one set to another at the skill it takes to do what those performers do.

The show was amusing just to watch from the sides, but it was made even more entertaining by audience interaction. Led by one of the performers, the crowd clapped, snapped and stomped along during parts of the show. It was a nice little sample of what hard work it must actually be to dance on stage and hit a bunch of noise-making items at just the right times to fit in with the beat. I appreciated the show so much more when my arms and hands cramped up after 10 minutes of snapping along.

The show was a breathtaking success. Because of its surplus of cleverness and creativity, it's one I wouldn't mind seeing again.

Review: Concert

""Don't let money change ya!"" proclaimed Blackalicious at their show on Nov. 20 at Canes in Mission Beach. True to their word, they have not.

Blackalicious released their EP in 1999 and followed up with their full-length album ""Nia"" in 2000. In the early 1990s, Blackalicious helped to establish the underground hip-hop scene in San Francisco and, even today, continue to stay true to their origin. Known for their funky beats and lyric-induced imagery, Blackalicious are notorious for keeping the crowd perpetually moving and hyped up. Their lyrical skills, fresh originality and interaction with the audience made this show quite possibly the best hip-hop show all year.

Blackalicious' ""Nia"" really struck a chord in the underground with its true hip-hop flavor. Gift of Gab, the group's forefront lyricist, along with producer DJ Chief Xcel, have been creating some of the most innovative, personal and witty lyrics and beats since they started out in 1994. Gift of Gab's talent is stupendous and is not fully graspable until seen in the flesh.

Gift of Gab performed the infamous song ""A to G"" from the new album and finished off with ""Alphabet Aerobics."" These songs consist of a plethora of alliterations and tongue twisters. In addition, the beat gets faster with each consecutive letter so that the lyrics get so swift that they seemingly trip over themselves. However, Gab maintains his breath and pronunciation, though the crowd has to take a deep breath after this performance. His variety in pitch and meter is very distinctive, and matched with Xcel's vintage beats and sampling from the '70s and '80s makes a divine combination. How Gab manages to go from a robotic monotone to a syrupy flow to a ghetto drawl with each song remains a mystery based in his endless talent and repertoire.

Gab is not the only one with shining talent. Gab's partner MC, Lateef, has a lyrical style influenced by dancehall. He gave a stunning performance, and his energy in managing the crowd never seemed to cease. His style of rapping and singing compliments and contrasts with Gab's.

Another highlight of the show was Erinn Anova, whose soulful and powerful voice weaves through the songs and gives emotional punch to their choruses. This trio of innovators never disappoints its audiences.

The performances of ""Deception"" and ""You Didn't Know That Though"" show off the inventiveness of the group's lyrics and beats, which are influenced by tribal sounds and synthesized instruments. The driving rhythms of these songs, along with sing-song choruses, got the members of the crowd involved and bobbing their heads.

Gab and Lateef even did a flow over the beats from the legendary Roger & Zapp. As a contrast to the other beat-heavy songs, ""Shallow Days"" and ""If I May"" are contemplative pieces that flow like storytelling. These lyrics are smart and personal narratives that keep the crowd interested and emotionally connected.

The show was 18 and up, a rare occurrence in San Diego. Because most people 21 and older argue that an 18 and up age requirement makes for an annoying show, it was a surprise that the crowd was more excited and conscious of the music than any pretentious and self-conscious group of young hipsters. Breakdancing circles formed, and kids were practically on top of each other to be near the front.

It was exciting to have San Diego host a group such as Blackalicious. If you don't have their old album or their ""Quannum Projects"" album, or you haven't heard them yet, wake up and give them a listen. Their music is honest and original, not overproduced like much of what crowds the airwaves today.

-- Chako Suzuki

The Hiatus Calendar


The performers of Lower Left will use mud, water and their sense of brutal sincerity for their performance and dance act at Sushi Performance & Visual Art in San Diego. There will be strong language and nudity. The show will run through Dec. 3 and again from Dec. 8 to Dec. 10. Call (619) 235-8468 for more information.

Check out ""Gynomite: Fearless Feminist Porn!"" at Dizzy's in downtown San Diego. Eight intelligent and sexy women will tell their stories about sex. The event starts at 8 p.m. and there is a $5 cover charge. Call (858) 270-7467 for more information.

Check out some of the best in indie rock at the Che Cafe on the UCSD campus just east of the Theatre District. Songs: Ohio will headline and will be supported by Damien Jurado, Paris TX and Kind of Like Spitting. The show begins at 8 p.m. and tickets are $6. Call (858) 534-2311 for more information.


Digital Underground will perform at the Belly Up Tavern. The show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are $15. Call the Belly Up at (858) 481-8140 for more information.


Ska-Punk? Punk-Ska? Take your pick when the Aquabats perform at Canes Bar & Grill. The show kicks off at 7 p.m. and tickets cost $12. Call Canes form ore information at (858) 488-9690.

The incredible voice of Dave Wakeling which once led the English Beat and General Public can be heard at the Belly Up Tavern. The show starts a 9 p.m. Call (619) 220-TIXS for more information.

Beatlemania Returns to Theaters

We all know being a rock star is tough. Even before VH-1 dared to go ""Behind the Music,"" director Richard Lester took a light-hearted approach to the rockumentary when he made a movie about four young lads from Liverpool trying to survive the fast-paced road to stardom.

Part comedy, part adventure, and part musical, ""A Hard Day's Night"" captures John, Paul, George and Ringo in the midst of Beatlemania. It was 1964 when movie houses packed with screaming teenage fans first showed this classic Beatle film.

The Fab Four had just invaded America and the question troubling every young girl was: Which one is cuter, John or Paul?

The soundtrack, which features ""Can't Buy Me Love,"" ""I'm Happy Just to Dance With You,"" and of course ""A Hard Day's Night,"" was often drowned out by the uncontrollable wailing of devoted fans.

Thirty-six years later, Miramax Films will re-release a fully restored version of ""A Hard Day's Night,"" just in time for Christmas.

The re-release of ""A Hard Day's Night"" was originally planned for September of 1999 but was pushed back because of the August 1999 re-release of another Beatle movie, ""Yellow Submarine."" It was then slated to hit theaters in October 2000, but Miramax pushed the release date back once again to coincide with release of other Beatle merchandise, such as the new ""Beatles 1"" compilation album and the Beatles Anthology book.

""A Hard Day's Night"" will finally hit theaters Dec. 1 in New York and Los Angeles, and then Dec. 8 nationwide.

As the sons and daughters of baby boomers, many of us have heard stories about the first time our parents saw ""A Hard Day's Night."" It is hard to believe that those doe-eyed, pre-teen Beatlemaniacs who have been preserved for posterity on old footage of the Ed Sullivan Show actually grew up to invest in mutual funds and retirement pensions. But if you have ever wondered what became of those screaming Beatle fans, they probably became your parents.

So what better way to spend quality time with them this holiday season then by showing them you're hip to their kind of music?

OK, perhaps that is a bad idea, considering taking your mom to see ""A Hard Day's Night"" might unleash some very unwelcome nostalgia trips. However, the chance to see this award-winning piece of pop culture in the theaters should not be passed up.

This glimpse into history shows rock 'n' roll when it was still innocent, and gives insight into that all-important question: Who is your favorite Beatle?

Celebrating the Holidays South of the Border

With the holiday season approaching, it is important to realize that not all cultures ring in the new year by decorating a dead tree and leaving milk and cookies for an overweight burglar in a red jumpsuit. In fact, our neighbors just south of the border have a very different way of celebrating Christmas and the new year.

While Christmas in the United States is generally celebrated on Dec. 25, the Mexican holiday celebration stretches from Dec. 16 to Jan. 6. It is not uncommon for many Mexicans to take the two weeks before Christmas off of work or school in order to spend more time with family and friends and to celebrate the holiday, according to http://www.mexonline.com.

The Posadas are one of the best-known holiday traditions in Mexico. There is one held each night for the nine nights prior to Christmas Eve. While the literal translation of ""posada"" is ""home,"" ""shelter"" or ""inn,"" the Posadas are dramatized re-enactments of Saint Joseph and the Virgin Mary's search for a place to stay and give birth to the baby Jesus.

In older celebrations of the Posadas, a young boy and girl were chosen to represent the two biblical figures. In modern celebrations, groups of people walk around with candles. They visit three houses and ask for a place to stay by singing a traditional question-and-response song. The first two houses deny them access, while the third house welcomes the group inside for festivities.

When the group is finally welcomed into the third house, it gathers around a manger scene and offers songs of welcome called Ave Marias.

While the more religious celebrators of the Posadas may pray when the third house lets them in, the event has evolved into a party. The festivities usually include refreshments and dancing. The adults are served a thick punch that usually contains a little alcohol to keep out the cold.

Often, the party also includes a pinata, which is very popular among children. The pinata is filled with candy and toys, and is usually hung from a tree.

The celebration is said to have originated in 1587, according to the Internet system of the presidency of Mexico, located online at http://world.presidencia.gob.mx. According to the Web site, it was then that Friar Diego de Soria obtained a Papal Bull from Pope Sixtus V to celebrate ""Aguinaldo,"" the Christmas gift Masses that ran from Dec. 16 through Dec. 24 in what was New Spain.

The Masses, which were held in the church atriums and designed to convert patrons before Christmas, were filled with scenes that alluded to Christmas. The Augustinian missionaries used fireworks, sparklers, Christmas carols and pinatas to attract crowds. These festive celebrations evolved into the modern celebration.

The ritual is continued until Christmas Eve, when another verse is added to the Ave Marias that tells the Virgin Mary that the night has come to give birth to baby Jesus. The children are dressed as shepherds and stand beside the nativity scene while members of the company kneel and sing. The ritual is concluded by rocking the baby Jesus to sleep with the cradle song ""El Rorro,"" which means ""Babe in Arms.""

After the last of the Posadas, worshippers go to church to attend the ""Misa de Gallo"" or the ""Mass of the Rooster."" This is the first Mass of Christmas Day and is traditionally celebrated with fireworks, ringing bells and blowing whistles to announce the birth of Jesus.

The Mass is followed by a large dinner of traditional Mexican foods, including tamales, rice, rellenos, atole (a sweet traditional drink) and medudo, which is said to be more sobering than a strong cup of coffee.

Celebration of the holiday on Christmas Day itself also differs from the American celebration. While Americans traditionally celebrate the day with a Christmas tree and presents, Mexicans usually do not do anything special on Dec. 25. However, recent trends have Mexicans integrating the American celebration of Christmas trees and Santa Claus into their traditional celebrations.

In Mexican tradition, presents are not distributed until Jan. 6, the Dia de Reyes, which means the ""Day of the Kings."" This day, also called the Epiphany, is supposed to coincide with the twelfth night of Christmas. This is the day on which it is believed the three wise men brought gifts to Jesus.

'Horns Wings and More Tales'

""Performance art ... that usually involves getting naked and smearing stuff on your body, right?"" a student queried earlier this week, looking at the postcard ad for ""Horns Wings and More Tales."" The ad featured a black and white photo of a dancer superimposed on an attention-getting red background. True to the title, the dancers appear at various moments in the program with wings, horns and even (yes) their tails bare as they artfully spin a tale of the female experience in our culture.

Courtesy of Lower Left

The Lower Left dance company has reprised the popular ""Horns Wings and Tales,"" a powerful mish-mash of dance and performance art first performed in 1998. ""Horns Wings and More Tales"" opens tonight with ""Moving Violations"" for a seven-night, two-weekend run at Sushi Visual and Performance Art Space downtown.

The show presents a series of subtly related vignettes featuring such characters as Hairy Woman, Monster Girl and Nordstrom Woman. Through monologues and movement, the five performers bring to light the ways in which American women chafe under, cope with, and (somewhat) escape from the inherent patriarchy of our culture. The women of Lower Left are not afraid to be both poetic and aggressive, and they present a stunning piece of work.

Between mud, water, spelunking equipment, flying harnesses, crazy-but-logical monologues, glue-on body hair, and of course dance, this show covers vulgarity, beauty, anger, repressed pain and hope. Something for everyone? Not for those who seek to avoid challenges to the status quo. Viewers of previous performances have been heard uttering phrases such as ""life-changing"" and ""phenomenal.""

Opening the evening is a dance crazy with movement called ""Moving Violations."" First choreographed by Nina Martin of Lower Left in the mid-eighties, it was revived for this year's Trolley Dances and expanded for this performance. In addition to learning Martin's choreography, the dancers worked together under her direction to create the fastest, most hair-raising quintets they could, crammed to capacity with lifts, jumps, flailing limbs and half-controlled falls.

Numerous UCSD dancers and alumni are performing in the show. Alumna and UCSD Recreation gymnastics instructor Margaret Paek will be seen in both pieces. Also, over a third of the huge cast of ""Moving Violations"" comes from UCSD. Look for undergraduate Lindsay Sworski, graduate student Jean Steiner and alumni Todd Bennett, Jean Dugan, Hannah Griffith and Andrew Wass. Such a strong UCSD presence in the post-modern dance community is noteworthy, especially considering that the dance department here tends more toward the modern dance vein.

With seven performances in two weekends, UCSD students have no excuses for not going to ""Horns Wings and More Tales."" This may be a crazy time, between finals and getting home for vacation, but so what -- you'd regret missing this amazing performance.

Sushi is located on 11th Avenue, between J and K streets. Tickets for ""Horns Wings and More Tales"" are $15, $12 for students and $10 for Sushi members. Call (619) 235-8466 for information or reservations.


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