What Happened Last Night At The Amy Winehouse Foundation’s After Party At The DL

T.G.I.F…and F.Y.I: with half the known world M.I.A. (missing in action) in MIA (Miami) for the W.M.C. (Winter Music Conference) and the U.M.F. (Ultra Music Festival), there was a great music based party at The DL ( Delancey and Ludlow?, Down Low?, Designed by Lewis?) in the L.E.S. (Was that as good for you as it was for me?). Anyway… the after party for the Amy Winehouse Foundation event that happened earlier at The Waldorf Astoria was one of the most fun parties I have been to in quite some time. A gorgeous, mixed, hip and smart crowd gathered to hear Mark Ronson and a few other DJs (Disc Jockeys) spin. Mark, of course, produced Amy Winehouse’s glorious multi-platinum album Back to Black, and arrived with producer Danger Mouse for his 1am set. I did the opening set, followed by Andy Rourke (ex-Smiths) who is working on a new album. Lucas Walters, Gavin Russom, and Vikas kept the crowd till 4 A.M. (ante meridiem). O.K. (OKAY), I’ll stop.

I chatted with Mark who closed out the set with Amy and his Valerie. It was a sobering reminder of her early departure and why we were all there. It was great seeing him. We worked together at Life and other clubs I directed back in the day. Whenever I see him I am awed at how much he hasn’t changed. Despite being very successful, he remains the same accessible and straight-up guy he always has been. Terry Casey put the whole thing together. I am in the process of redux-ing The DL which has proven to be a wonderful adventure. 

The vibe last night was outstanding. The beautiful Taquana Harris turned to me mid-evening and remarked that the party was very reminiscent of the old days in club life that have seemed so far away and unattainable. I guess if one gathers immense talent for a good cause, people of substance will come out to play. None of the DJs played a set in any way similar to the others. The public, which is much smarter than the pablum-packed sets usually offered at nightclubs, embraced the eclectic mixes from all the genres offered. I must note that Marky Ramone and Paul Sevigny were also wonderfully willing to lend a hand with the event if we needed them. My day today is shot a good sign that my night was grand.

Electric Guest is Ready to Boogie, Woogie, Woogie

Some musicians thrive in the pool-party, palm-tree, freeway fantasia of Los Angeles. And Electric Guest, the two-man band made up of Asa Taccone and Matthew Compton, seems to be such a group. Their debut album, Mondo, was produced by the Midas of Music, Danger Mouse. And their month-long residency in February at L.A.’s The Echo became a bazaar for trading hipster cred. But that would be incorrect. One need only to watch the dark video for their single “American Daydream,” directed by Asa’s brother Jorma Taccone of The Lonely Island fame, to be convinced of their latent disdain. Taccone, whose warble channels Jamiroquai and who resembles a skinnier, feral Mark Wahlberg, crashes a classic valley party and launches an airborne assault on the otherwise anodyne, if vapid, guests. Taccone ends bloody but triumphant. This all is accompanied by a simmering catchy chant of a chorus: “They keep sellin’ / We don’t want it / So close to it / Almost found a way.”

“The L.A. world constantly bums me out,” admits Taccone, “and a lot of the album is kind of about just how empty that world is culturally.” Though the genre-skipping Mondo is about the hassles of a plasticine world, to call it only a reactionary manifesto is equally misleading. Taccone, who grew up in Berkeley, began writing the songs while living in his apartment in Seattle nearly six years ago. “I would call up my brother and sing him these songs. One day he said, ‘Hey, I’ve got a friend named Brian who would love this stuff.’” That friend was Brian Burton, aka Danger Mouse.

After Taccone moved to Los Angeles at his brother’s behest for an ultimately elusive career as a songwriter for hire, he met Matthew Compton, a shy, all-American kid who lived downstairs from him in Mount Washington. The two began to flesh out the songs which Taccone had brought south with him. Remnants of the artist as a young man are still apparent. In one song Taccone sings, “They say it’s never easy when you’re 23 / And maybe that’s a lie and it’s just hard as fuck for me.” Now, distilled into a potent hook by Danger Mouse, that line has become both more compelling and less true. With their debut album generating more buzz than a bad connection, Electric Guest might not like Los Angeles, but Los Angeles, and nearly everyone else, loves Electric Guest.

Norah Jones Returns With Danger Mouse-Produced ‘Happy Pills’

No one would have blamed Norah Jones for retiring at 23 after taking over the world with 2002’s Come Away With Me. Hell, no one would’ve blamed her for remaining a dependable jazz-pop singer for the rest of her career, content to play auditoriums and lounges for a steadily aging audience. Her first single from her next album, Little Broken Hearts, isn’t the most adventurous thing in the world, but it’s definitely forward-thinking. Produced by Danger Mouse, "Happy Pills" has Jones decrying some bogus ex of hers over a sanguine rhythm, her voice as smoky and confident as ever.

Little Broken Hearts is out on May 1, but Jones will premiere a slew of songs at SXSW in March. Wonderful!

Electric Guest Bring Blue-Eyed Soul Back Into Our Hearts

In this digital age of music sharing, copying, and outright thievery, it’s rare that you come across an unknown band with such raw, unbridled talent and well-constructed songs that are almost impossible to actually hear. There were few websites offering the tunes of Electric Guest, and only a handful of music bloggers and LA-based DJs were able to gush about the band’s sound after catching an unannounced weekday show at a random Southern California bar. This may be exactly the strategy that Electric Guest, or perhaps their management company Monotone Inc. (whose clients include the likes of Jack White, Vampire Weekend, The Shins, and Cold War Kids) was going for. You’d also discover, with a small bit of digging, their producer is Brian Burton, aka Danger Mouse, which makes you even more excited to hear the other eight songs on their electro soul-pop debut album Mondo, due out at the end of April.

“It’s kind of great, isn’t it?” says pint-sized frontman Asa Taccone. “You can usually find everything about everything online these days. James Blake has been doing this for a while—using silence as part of the song.”

You most likely don’t know it, but you’ve already gotten a taste of Asa Taccone’s talents. His older brother Jorma is one of the founding members of The Lonely Island, the troupe that brought us Andy Samberg and arguably revived Saturday Night Live to comedic relevancy. Asa was brought on to help produce “Dick in a Box,” as well as the soundtracks for the SNL-cast comedies Hot Rod and MacGruber—just a few of the gigs he worked with Electric Guest drummer Matt “Cornbread” Compton over the six years it took them to carefully craft their first album. You could argue, however, that the seeds of the band were first planted a decade prior, when a young, wily Taccone was in college at Cornish in Seattle and crossed paths with the up-and-coming Danger Mouse.

“Brian [Burton] became a mentor to me, took me under his wing,” Taccone explains. “When I moved to LA, he hooked me up with a spot to live in his old place, this communal artist house in Mount Washington that had an old recording studio inside it.”

At that old, occasionally trashed home studio, Taccone would begin his work. Young artists and musicians were constantly circulating in and out of the house and one of them was Compton, a talented, soft-spoken career musician from Richmond, Virginia who had come out west in search of a change. After playing together a few times, he and Taccone connected and Electric Guest was born.

“I came from an indie rock background and a love for ‘60s-era French pop,” Compton says. “And Asa came from a hip-hop and soul background. So there’s a little bit of everything on this album.”

It certainly seems that way, judging by the three tracks you can currently hear online. “This Head I Hold” is a fast-paced, soul-tinged dance number with Compton leading the way on the drums and Taccone doing what will become his signature falsetto. “American Daydream” has an athem-esque, sing-along quality to it, soaked in mourning—the music video, directed by Asa’s brother Jorma, has the younger Taccone killing Compton in it. And then there’s “Troubleman,”  the near-nine minute moody epic antithesis of pop that you never really want to end. All of these tracks—as with many Danger Mouse-produced projects—are instantly familiar and steeped in emotion.

“Both Asa and I are drawn to music that conveys a particularly strong emotion,” Compton says, citing their film and television work, as examples. “There’s so much music out there that doesn’t particularly convey anything. We want our music to put the listener in a mood.”

Yet the real proof that Electric Guest is a breakout band of 2012 (and hopefully long beyond) came the first Monday in February, when they began their month-long residency at The Echo in the heart of LA’s hipster-centric Echo Park. This was the first of a string of shows over the next two months leading up to the album’s release, taking them from Paris to showcasing at this year’s South by Southwest Conference. It was also the first time their growing mass of followers could quell their hunger to hear the rest of the album and affirm the collective belief that these guys are the real deal. We were not disappointed.

The quartet is tight, seamlessly rolling from one track into the next like they’ve been doing it on tour for years. Taccone is especially incredible, striking in his small stature, his look and sound slightly androgynous, somewhere between Prince and Mick Jagger. These are outrageously lofty comparisons, sure—but once you hear and see Electric Guest, you’ll understand that this may be the beginning of something truly great.

Links: Lindsay Lohan Mooching, Naked Dilemma for Vanessa Hudgens

● Lindsay Lohan has been hanging around sister Ali lately so her younger sister can foot the bill for Lindsay’s lavish lifestyle. [Popcrunch] ● Danger Mouse has collaborated with cult film director David Lynch to create visuals for his controversial album Dark Night of the Soul. [Dnots] ● Spoiler alert: Laura Leighton’s return as Sydney on the rebooted Melrose Place won’t last long, as she will be found face down in the famous MP pool at the beginning of the show. [EW]

● Angelina Jolie is evidently just like us, as she enjoys a $4 lip balm. [MSN] ● Zac Efron is evidently encouraging girlfriend and fellow HSM-er Vanessa Hudgens to go naked for a role to get away from her good-girl image. [DigitalSpy] ● Jackass’s Chris Pontius has joined the cast of Sofia Coppola’s Hollywood pic Somewhere. Pontius will play best friend to lead Stephen Dorff’s Hollywood bad-boy character. [EmpireOnline]