Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Idyllists Record Release for The Grave & Unfortunate Life of Lord Hoffway & His Magnificent Piano @ Bar Lubitsch

Aaron Mohlo

was one guy on a stage with a looping machine, who seemed nervous and sounded like he hadn't rehearsed much.  I have to say, it takes balls to get up on stage alone and perform.  His voice wasn't bad and he's actually in a band, so I'm curious as to what he would sound like with a full band.  I give him props for being a fan of Walter Meego (love their first album.  Haven't really listened to the second one much) even though he didn't exactly choose the best style to cover their songs.  And I do agree with his sentiment that Walter Meego wrote songs like 5th graders, but executed them excellently.  Sadly, the duo has disbanded like he mentioned.  

The Idyllists

Photo by HC
Since I'm so shy, and HC and I had to run off to dinner after the show, I didn't get a chance to ask Ian Webber, vocalist of The Idyllists, any questions.  He was surrounded by friends anyhow.  And for good reason, the band sounded great on the tiny stage.  I'm sure they could have easily filled a larger venue such as Hotel Cafe, where they had previously played.  At Bar Lubitsch, the band was crammed onto a small stage, where two pillars kept two members hidden from view.  It looked like the band barely had room to move, but that didn't stop them from playing an enthusiastic, albeit short, set.

With keyboardist Matthew Barge and bassist George Mohler back in town, I was hoping to hear some of the classics like I Think it's Going to Rain and Let's Fly Away in a longer set, but the show abruptly ended at 10pm.  I'm not embarrassed to admit that I was the one who yelled for one more song.  I meant it!  However, walking by the bar after dinner, I'm guessing the place immediately turned into a club at that time. 

Their new album The Grave & Unfortunate Life of Lord Hoffway & His Magnificent Piano, is a melancholy departure from their previous albums' Britpop style.  Maybe it's because it was recorded over the course of several rainy weeks in Laurel Canyon.

Favorite songs from their set:
  • Good Red Wine
  • Rose Coloured Glasses
  • Afterglow - has been stuck in my head lately
  • Old Fashioned
  • Midnight Alley Run - okay, so they didn't play this live, but they should have!  It's one of the best songs off the album! 

Ian Webber was kind enough to take the time to answer some of my questions by email. 

HEY HEY SCENESTERS:  How did The Idyllists come up with the title of the new album?

IAN WEBBER:  The album title was a combination of studio recording and chatting.  Sam started putting on a Brit accent and calling Halfway House, Lord Hoffway's House. That's where Lord Hoffway came from. I always liked grand old novels such as Agatha Christie or Ronald Dahl, and even childhood books that had long imaginative titles. We chatted and grave and unfortunate came.. Then naturally the piano was the main instrument this time round so that had to have a mention. Hope this solves the riddle!

HHS:  Why did you decide to play at Bar Lubitsch instead of, say, Hotel Cafe? (since you definitely had a ton of fans there)

IAN:  Bar Lubitsch is a place I book weekly and has become a really cool and alternative place to host live music.  We had time to set up early, not have other bands play and basically do what we wanted. It was a natural place to play given we also had not performed for a while. Plus the room sounds great!  Size wise I always prefer small rooms, so everyone is closer to us.. :) 

HHS:  Yea, I didn't even realize the bar had a stage back there.  The sound is actually pretty good and the intimate space is nice. 
Why such a short set?  Was there a time limit?  (I really wanted to hear I Think it's Going to Rain ;) ) 

IAN:  Short set? We had limited rehearsal times as Matthew lives in NYC, George in San Fran. So that's really why. Wanted to be fully rehearsed on a few rather than less rehearsed on a lot of songs. We decided to keep it to just the new LP as it has its particular mood. Didn't want to spoil or interrupt the flow with a fast happy song haha. Maybe if we get together more frequently older songs could get performed. We still love 'em.

HHS:  Well, that's true.  I'd still love to hear a happy song next time, maybe as an encore? :P 
Was it difficult to put this record together since some of your members live out of town? 

IAN:  It was easy to pull the LP together actually. 3 studio get togethers, everyone flying in, intense rehearsal and then record! Of course we did file share to get a feel for the song structure which helped. 

HHS:  Will there be future albums? 

IAN:  Future albums? But of course my dear! We all know each other so well now that we trust each others playing, and songs can get finished fairly quickly once we are together..

HHS:  Whew, so glad to hear that.  

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sound Bites 17.0: Littlefork @ Hollywood

Located half a mile from Pantages Theatre, Littlefork is a new pre-theatre dining option.  The interior seems to be a modern take on an east coast beach house, which is a refreshing departure from the overused industrial look of almost every new restaurant in downtown LA.  Fortunately, the food there isn't trite at all.  Here are some of my favorites.

  • James & York - rum, port, lime, pineapple, chesapeake & creole bitters, molasses.  Tasted like a tiki drink. 
  • Longman & Eagle Old Fashioned - Buffalo Trace bourbon, cherry & orange & Old Fashioned bitters, Demerara sugar, citrus zest.  
  • OK, so this isn't on the menu, but it's my favorite Old Fashioned and I'm so glad Littlefork imported Dino Balocchi (of Longman & Eagle fame) from Chicago, where I first had this great version of the classic cocktail.  

  • Pickled Beets, Radishes, Brussels Sprouts - they're delicious and come in cute little jars.  The jars line the wall behind the hostess by the entrance, so decoration and pickling are going on at same time.  I wonder if the restaurant lets you buy them to take home...
  • Clam Cakes - house tartar sauce.
    Like fluffy little clouds.  So good I got seconds.
  • Chowder - clams, bacon, oyster crackers.
    I liked how the soup wasn't too thick, and the potatoes and clams were just meaty enough without being overwhelming.  This would be perfect on a chilly / rainy day.   
  • Brisket - three mustards.
    The mustard drops looked like little chocolates.  The brisket was tender and flavorful.  It looked like a deconstructed sandwich.
  • Duck Breast -braised greens, maple cider sauce. 
    Supple and well-seasoned.  I'm glad it wasn't overly salty, which is how it tends to be at many non-Asian restaurants.
  • Maple Eggs - crispy bacon. 
    The sweet eggs and bacon came out in fake eggshells sitting in an egg carton.  Loved the presentation and the dish.
  • Apple Cider Donuts - apple butter. 
    Clearly the crowd favorite. It looked so pretty covered in sugar crystals.  So delectable with salted caramel and apple butter.  I wanted the entire dish for myself.

Littlefork has a lovely patio that I can't wait to enjoy when the weather warms up.  And I hope to try their new brunch menu soon. 

Song Pairing:  Binary Mind by Ra Ra Riot

More Reviews:
Eater LA
E*star LA
Gourmet Pigs
LA Times
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