Lyn Jensen's Blog: Manga, Music, and Politics

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Location: Anaheim, California, United States

Regular contributor ("Carson City Limits" and other content) for Random Lengths (circulation 56,000) in San Pedro, CA, 2001-present. Manga reviewer: LA Alternative (circulation 150,000), 2005-2006. Some manga reviews also ran in NY Press around this time. Entertainment reporting: Music Connection (circulation 75,000), 1983-1906. Travel writing: Oakland Tribune (1998) and Life After 50 (2006). Other bylines: Goldmine, Star Hits, Los Angeles Reader, Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press Telegram, Blade, BAM, Daily Breeze, LA Weekly. Specializations include community news reporting, writing reviews (book, theater, concert, film, music), copywriting, resumes, editing, travel writing, publicity, screenwriting, lecturing, and content development. Education: B. A. Theater Arts, UCLA. Post-grad work, Education, Chapman University.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Carol Martini's First CD in Six Years: Songs of the Girl on the Swing

Carol Martini's latest CD Songs of the Girl on the Swing (available for purchase on CD Baby) might be more appropriately titled Songs of the Girl With the Guitar. For that's the musical universe Martini comfortably inhabits, singing her own compositions, accompanying herself on guitar, in California coffeehouses. Except her alternative-style songs deserve a much broader audience.
Fortunately she also makes (and markets) her own independent recordings, with Girl on a Swing being her third CD of the twentieth-first century. It's her first since Petals of the Red Magnolia (2010) which followed Rose in the Boxcar (2005, named by the Orange County Register as one of "OC's Best of the Best"). Martini also, in the nineties, made three old-fashioned vinyl albums that are now rare collectibles.
Her two previous CDs were deeply personal tributes to the memories of her parents--Red Magnolia for her mother and Boxcar for her father. By contrast this album's nineteen songs represent a return to the romance of her earlier works. It's a simple collection of love songs, some plaintive, but many with a wry sense of humor.
One such song is "Because that Man's Still Here," in which the singer laments that guy that just won't go away no matter what:  "So I sit in this bar, night after night, crying in my beer, not because he's left me but because that man's still here." (At least she can get away long enough to cry in a bar.) It's the kind of song to sing along to, sooth heartache to, and and perhaps put one's own creative spin on. It's one of Martini's best songs ever.
Swing concludes with another highlight, "Won't You Please Come Home" which paints a word picture of a broken relationship so much that we feel we're living it right along with her--or living through our own breakups and losses along with her.
Unfortunately some of the songs here aren't given the proper musical showcase. Daniel Martin and Lewis Richards are the credited musicians, and they play well, but much of the backing sounds like it came from a computer. If only the musical accompaniment could have shown the same wit and variety as the lyrics.
For more about Carol Martini and her music:
CD Baby

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Link to Random Lengths (12/1/16): Go Retro With Records

Here's the link to my ACE feature "Go Retro With Records" for the 12/1/16 issue of Random Lengths:

Editorial staff added two San Pedro stores to my copy but here is what I filed originally:

Gift of Music:  Go Retro with Real Records

By Lyn Jensen
Music fans! Here is your chance to go retro and spend many happy hours digging through record store bins. Three old-time rockin’ record stores in Long Beach offer you a chance to give the gift of music, in a variety of media—33 ½ RPM, 45s, CDs, even a few cassette tapes. You’ll also find holiday music to give you a soundtrack for the season. As you hop from store to store, you’ll find collectibles, DVDs, and shirts, too, along with surprise finds that only come from old-fashioned store-to-store shopping.

Third Eye on Retro Row
You’ll find about 3,400 new and used records—actual vinyl LPs—at Third Eye, 2234 Fourth Street, Long Beach, in the heart of several blocks of indy storefront businesses collectively known as Retro Row. Gary Farley opened Third Eye in Costa Mesa in 2002 and later relocated to Retro Row in Long Beach. (Note the store’s phone remains 714-415-9814.)
He recalls, “When my job ended as General Manager for a local retail store, I decided to turn my passion for music and record collecting into a career and have been enjoying the experience ever since.”
Farley also says millennials, who can’t remember the days before CDs, are now seeking out the analog recording technology their parents and grandparents know and love. They come to Third Eye for it.
If you’re a music fan who’s got something to sell, “I am always seeking record collections and music memorabilia (including shirts and posters) and pay cash or offer credit,” Farley says.
Third Eye has long had a reputation as a source for collectibles, imports, local music, punk, and hard-to-find items. Listening stations are available so you may try before you buy. Other perks include a delivery service (add $5 to your order) and cleaning records (for twenty-five cents each). Web:

Bagatelle:  Downtown Landmark since the Seventies
Steve Mintz, owner of the landmark Bagatelle at 260 Atlantic Avenue, says what sets his store apart is, “I carry all categories of music, not so much new, mostly used and collectible.”
He buys and stocks some CDs but mostly he’s looking for old-fashioned phonograph records--be they 78, 45 or 33 1/3 RPM. Visitors will find the storefront’s 1,000 square feet crammed full with bins of 45s, LPs, 78s, 12-inch singles, CDs, and some music memorabilia—about 40,000 items in stock at any one time.
Bagatelle started out as a “junk store” in 1974, Mintz says, but soon became a record shop. In 1977 it moved to its current location just south of Third Street.
Be prepared to spend some time browsing and digging in the two aisles that are less than a yard wide. Want to sample before you buy? There’s an in-store listening station.

Fingerprints in the Arts District
You’ll have to visit Fingerprints under the neon guitar at 420 E. Fourth Street to see the full range of holiday gift possibilities, which ranges from records to apparel, guitar straps, storage crates, memorabilia, and incense. This comfortably large store in the downtown arts district stocks thousands of old-school vinyl LPs, alongside tens of thousands of CDs, DVDs, 45s—even some cassette tapes. (There used to be VHS tapes, too, but no more.) The place will also buy your used LPs, DVDs, and CDs for in-store credit.
With enough floor space for just about every genre and music medium, lovingly used collectables mingle with the latest releases, and many of them are sealed copies much preferred as gifts. Country fans will be surprised with fresh sealed LPs by such contemporary stars as Kellie Pickler, Willie Nelson, and Lyle Lovett. If you’re in a Woodstock frame of mind, you may prefer to trip out on collectable vinyl rarities, including maybe, just maybe, that certain Beatles LP still in shrink wrap. Punks, there’s something completely different for you, too, perhaps a new and unused shrink-wrapped copy of Patti Smith’s Horses LP.