Spanning the Net
Once upon a time, musicians actually had to pack their gear and perform around the world to build an international following. For bands like L.A.'s El Ten Eleven, however, a few well-placed words from the right corner of the Internet can take your music further than any tour bus.
Helped by the fierce support of the popular MP3 blog Music for Robots (music.for-robots.com), El Ten Eleven has not only sold copies of its self-titled CD to fans as far away as Serbia, it also earned a record deal.
The site "put one of our songs on a compilation CD and held a release party in New York," says El Ten Eleven bassist and mastermind Kristian Dunn. "We flew out to play it, and one of the guys from our label saw the show. After that they offered us a deal."
El Ten Eleven's dense, textured instrumentals recall post-rock standard-bearers like Tortoise or the Mercury Program, except theirs are created by only two musicians -- and a whole lot of effects pedals.
"It's pretty crazy to watch," Dunn says of his band's high-wire act performances, in which he and drummer Tim Fogarty conjure a much bigger band by sampling and looping their instruments. "We look like we're juggling."
El Ten Eleven plays the Lava Lounge tonight.
His next trick
It's not often a terrible injury can be considered a positive thing, but you might be able to make such an argument for singer-songwriter Matt Costa. Well on his way to a pro skateboarding career, the Huntington Beach native shattered his leg at 19 attempting a risky trick. Facing a long, painful rehabilitation, Costa immersed himself in a new, safer hobby.
"I get kind of obsessed over things so it wasn't hard to sit down for hours and learn different techniques on the guitar," he says. "I started really getting into song structure and writing my own songs."
Now 23, Costa may have missed his shot at the X Games, but he's still drawing crowds. Fresh off an opening slot on Jack Johnson's recent U.S. tour, Costa plays the Troubadour on Tuesday in support of his debut album, "Songs We Sing," a jangly, hopeful collection that recalls the wistful folk of Donovan one minute, the effervescent country-pop of the Shins the next.
"It's kind of funny, the music I do is Americana in a way, but I was inspired by the British take on American music," Costa says. "It's come full circle now. I'm an American emulating that."
Iron & Wine and Calexico reprise their sepia-toned EP "In the Reins" at the Wiltern LG on Tuesday. Both will play full sets followed by a collaborative finale.... Australia's violin-grinding Dirty Three comes to the Knitting Factory tonight in support of its darkly delicate new release, "Cinder".... Seattle shoegazers Voyager One touch down for three dates next week, Monday at the Hotel Cafe, Tuesday at Silverlake Lounge and Wednesday at King King.
-- Chris Barton