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Dustin Lovelis With Fort Jams And Joel Jerome At The Bootleg Theater, Monday July 31st 2017

Dustin Lovelis


Dustin Lovelis’ residency at The Bootleg residency was rather low-key, I hadn’t heard much about it, but if all the evenings were filled by music as heartfelt and lovely as it was last Monday night, it was really a missed opportunity for Los Angelinos to discover new young songwriters.

First, a young band called Fort Jams and fronted by Joel Bond, one of the musicians who played with Dustin later on, gave us a set of melancholic songs, bringing a real romantic feeling, almost surprising for such a young man. His nasal voice actually reminded Jon Brion’s, and you could tell that Bond had a vision, a multi-layered one with melodious and complex arrangements and going beyond the usual influences of such a young person… Anyone who covers Harry Nilsson – he did ‘I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City’ – immediately gets maximum points from me. Other tracks had a slight Tame Impala vibe with atmospheric vibrant guitars, before going back to a more dreamy bedroom pop splashing its delicate brightness all over the Bootleg walls. Some of the songs had that cinematic feel of old romantic movies and if I haven’t found much about them anywhere – a vinyl was released on Plastic Jurassic last month – there are a lot of chances we will hear from Fort Jams in the future.

Joel Jerome is a staple of the L.A. (Echopark/Highland park/Silverlake) music scene, he has produced bands such as Cherry Glazerr, La Sera, Globelamp, Tashaki Miyaki among many others, but he also has his own music – he released a 12-track album entitled Psychedelic Thriftstore Folk a few years ago –and his sound navigates between the Beatles and Brian Wilson,… not bad influences you would say. Joel even just recorded his own version of ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ for the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking album, and this reaction says a lot about him: he was not found at the idea of the Flaming Lips recording their own tribute, ‘With a Little Help From My Fwends’: ‘That immediately got my blood boiling, and I took it as a challenge to record the album and release it on the same date as theirs,’ he said to the LA Weekly. He released it in fact a bit later but ‘Papa Joel’, as many musicians have nicknamed him, carries his influences on his sleeve,.. and tee-shirt. In any case, his too-short set was oozing these influences while all the layers of his psychedelic guitar solos were booming against the walls of the theater, then, he had this little gem of song ‘Everybody Wants Somebody’, that you may have heard before, a catchy-at-the-first-listening kind of song with its sing-along chorus, while the lyrics go like this: ‘I have all that I need and now that I have it I don’t want it anymore/I don’t have what I need and now that I have it I don’t have it no more’… it’s always complicated as everyone knows. Joel Jerome is a low-key guy, who seems to come alive when he plays and sings his Beatles-que poignant songs, even when he sings ‘I don’t want to die’, over an upbeat smashing melody, he looks like a happy guy.

Dustin Lovelis used to be the frontman of the Long Beach band the Fling signed by Dangerbird, but when the band collapsed a few years ago, he released an album on his own, ‘Dimensions’ in 2015, which after listening to him live, should have received far more exposure.

This must have been the night of underrated songwriters because his set had lovely and strangely familiar tunes, with plenty of hooks and interesting bridges surrounded by a cloud of dreamy and heartfelt harmonies. I don’t know exactly how, but some of his songs sent me a big Aimee Mann/Michael Penn/Jon Brion vibe, something coming from the Largo crowd… of course when you cite these people you always think about the Beatles, who seemed to be one of the theme of the night, but all this totally made sense when I read he had recorded his album at Elliott Smith’s former home, New Monkey Studio. I also read he is a fan, and there are no coincidences, just listen to his songs ‘White Coat’ and ‘Plastic Flower’!

His set was nevertheless diverse with plenty of influences and many instrumental layers, some songs had even a sort of Ryan Adams meets a poppy heart — all I can say about this is that he was wearing a flannel shirt over a tee shirt. Dustin Lovelis will release a new Album “Been Hit Before” on August 25th via Friendship Fever /Porch Party Records, and he played plenty of new songs of this upcoming effort, and one entitled ‘My Replacement’ brought a touch of psychedelia while the guitars got completely furious and dark during the last one ‘Tompkinsville’, a hypnotic and trippy one, about a sad case of police brutality: the proof that indie underrated songwriters with a vintage and timeless sound are not always self absorbed and detached from the real world.

More pictures here.

Fort Jams

Fort Jams

Joel Jerome

Dustin Lovelis

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