Browsing all 53 posts in Album Reviews.
November 2, 2010
Le Switch were one of the first bands that blipped my radar when I started following the Los Angeles music scene. I think RFS tipped me off. The band has since put out a few releases and shed a horn player. You can see them play this Thursday at Spaceland, at the record release show for their new LP The Rest of Me Is Space.
September 22, 2010
In the last couple years The Mezzanine Owls have pulled a Marvin Harrison on Los Angeles — they faded away, never officially retired, possibly killed a man… and then everyone just kind of moved on. But singer-guitarist Jack Burnside has returned with a new project, Rabbits Rabbits Rabbits, picking-up splendidly where his last band left off.
August 31, 2010
The 2007 Film School release Hideout is one of my all-time favorite LA (if by way of San Fran) records and I’m prepared to say that I like Fission a good deal better.
August 26, 2010
It’s hard to believe Radars to the Sky have never released a full-length record. Stalwarts of the Los Angeles indie rock scene ever since I’ve been paying attention, they finally put-out a proper release that gives indie rocker’s indie rock a good name.
August 4, 2010
POLLS celebrated the release of their new EP at the Bootleg Theatre last week. Terrific performance, one of the more enjoyable live shows I’ve seen in recent memory.
July 22, 2010
I don’t always go for this sort of thing, but Luke Temple’s latest project Here We Go Magic put out a record, Pigeons, that reminds me of something between Local Natives and Micachu and the Shapes. (A good thing.)
July 19, 2010
A couple Mondays ago I peeked-in Spaceland to catch the first night of the Summer Darling residency. It was a moving performance featuring a dynamic range of emotions, from seething angst to explosive triumph. I was grinning ear to ear, happy to have some unabashed indie rock for guys who wear clothes that fit.
June 22, 2010
An Aquarium Drunkard presents L’Aventure
Today LA-based blog An Aquarium Drunkard releases a tribute comp to Television’s Adventure. Titled L’Aventure, the album is a complete-cover record, each song performed by (arguably, truly) eight of LA’s fifteen best indie rock bands.
There are a lot of music geeks who take the “Adventure is an under-appreciated classic” stance. I am not one of them. I think it’s a perfectly fine record that unfortunately follows one of the all-time greats. (Disclaimer: I consider Marquee Moon the greatest rock record ever recorded.) In this way Adventure is like The Godfather Part III, it’s chief weakness an abundance of warmth where none should be.
(J. Neas eloquently argues the contrary, by the way.)
However, it is Adventure‘s “good, but not great” status that makes it ripe for covering, and An Aquarium Drunkard has picked only the finest fruit. Comps overrun today’s new music like randy strawberry plants overrun gardens, but Justin Gage has coordinated some truly impressive organic pairings.
Every track is expertly matched with an artist that deftly draws from a different dimension of Television’s rich sound. The Henry Clay People perfectly capture Adventure‘s reflective tones on “Glory,” the album opener. The Happy Hollows mutate “Foxhole” into a Marquee Moon outtake while Imaad Wasif (w/ Lykke Li assisting) takes the listener into an even darker and drearier hole on “The Fire”.
But for my money, The Deadly Syndrome steal the show with their cover of “Carried Away,” making the song their own more than any other entry on the comp. And props to Local Natives, who elevate the overall professional quality of the collection.
I was impressed with this comp on the first listen. Justin Gage’s passion for both the Los Angeles music scene and Adventure really come thorough. The best musical efforts are labors of love, and you can count this among them.
L’Aventure can be downloaded for free, but donations in conjunction with the record go directly to The Silverlake Music Conservatory. (So give a few bucks, will ya?)
DOWNLOAD L’AVENTURE HERE!
An Aquarium Drunkard presents L’Aventure
1. The Henry Clay People – “Glory”
2. Foreign Born – “Days”
3. The Happy Hollows – “Foxhole”
4. Local Natives – “Careful”
5. The Deadly Syndrome – “Carried Away
6. Imaad Wasif (w/ Lykke Li) – “The Fire”
7. Dirt Dress – “Ain’t That Nothin'”
8. The Growlers – “The Dream’s Dream”
June 8, 2010
It’s impossible for me to be objective in regards to The Henry Clay People. They’re my friends. They’re emblematic of what a great local music scene means to me. I’ve seen them play great shows, great drunk shows, terrible drunk shows, and all other manner of shows. I’ve slept on hardwood floors with them. I can’t “review” their new record, Somewhere On The Golden Coast, out today on TBD Records. I can only offer my thoughts.
The Henry Clay People – Somewhere on the Golden Coast
Without talking too much inside baseball, I know that the song selection and track listing for Somewhere On The Golden Coast was a protracted process for everyone involved in making the record.
Somewhere out in the ether (somewhere on the golden coast?) there is a version of this album that would be more directly catered towards me. It would have included “Switch Kids,” “The Good Ones,” “Taste of the Tasteless,” “Randy Where’s the Rest of Me?” and a version of “Digital Kid” closer to what the band was playing in early 2009. It would have been a slobberknocker of a rock record.
The record that is Somewhere on the Golden Coast has a different tact. It’s a Slow Burn (like the same-named track on the album); less hyper-active, less eager to please, and less inclined to flaunt its influences than any HCP release to date. If For Cheap or For Free was a published Indie Rocker’s Manifesto then Somewhere On the Golden Coast might be that same indie rocker’s private diary: entries written at the bottom of the eighth pint of beer, a more intimate and introspective — if more abstract — assemblage of somewhat melancholy thoughts and musical ideas.
(I’m not a huge fan of the HCP’s glam rock-influenced direction, and for those like me, there were a number of terrific live sets recorded for various websites last year that well-document the band’s post-For Cheap or For Free, pre-glitter guitar period.)
It’s only fair to mention that longtime fans are only granted 26 minutes of new songs, with “This Ain’t a Scene” and “Working Part Time” getting fresh takes.
That’s the only serious downside.
And for those who have not yet heard The Henry Clay People (that is to say “the vast majority of music consumers”), Somewhere on the Golden Coast is an impressive, comprehensive introduction to The HCP and all their colors, from the glammy-epic “Saturday Night” to furious rocker “End of an Empire” to “Nobody Taught Us To Quit,” a stripped-down indie morsel in the vein of a hundred seemingly incomplete Guided by Voices tracks.
“End of An Empire” is a stand-out, but “Your Famous Friends” might be the best recorded track The Henry Clay People have ever released. (Admittedly, one of the glammier tunes.)
Good artists perfect a dish and serve it to their fans over and over again, only mildly tweaked. Great artists have the guts to know you can’t give the fans what they think they want, you have to give them something better; you have to turn expectations on their heads every time. That means taking creative risks.
On this album, The Henry Clay People have bravely charged themselves with the greater task. They often — but don’t always — succeed. The effort is admirable and worthy of The Henry Clay People’s reputation as “a band for the good guys,” rock music for The People Who Get It.
Somewhere on the Golden Coast is a rewarding listen and I give it a strong recommendation. It’s the kind of music worth paying for and will surely make many end of the year lists, probably mine. You can buy it tonight at Spaceland when The Henry Clay People celebrate the release of the album. (Expect a couple new covers, too!)
BUY THE ALBUM FROM THE HCP HOMEPAGE (Cheaper than iTunes!)
June 1, 2010
The Californian – Sea of Love EP
The Californian (Los Angeles, CA) have termed themselves both post-surf rock and alt-surf rock, and with good reason: their four-song Sea of Love EP contains just as much Radiohead in its DNA as it does The Surfaris or The Beach Boys. It’s a recording that doesn’t rehash a proven formula that works, but makes a daring effort to create something new from what’s come before. (Something “new” that doesn’t rely on an Afro-beat, I might add.) Remember when bands did that? 20 years ago? Well, The Californian have encrusted a 21st century crown with the sonic gems of surf rock, displaying expert craftsmanship and impeccable taste.
Where lo-fi acts like Wavves feature bedroom-quality recordings composed with sloppy faux indifference, The Californian is staffed with devoted musicians and professional recording engineers. Where acts like Dum Dum Girls go to great lengths to replicate the sounds of 60’s pop, The Californian prays before the altar of the same era but then builds an addition onto the church. And where today’s trendy indie music features droning under-mixed vocals, The Californian’s John Graney sings beautifully, loud-and-clear, at the forefront of the mix.
There is not a speck of nostalgia on this record, which is probably why I love it so much.
Every song has at least two heads. The Californian’s greatest strength is an ability to surprise you every step of the way. In the year 2010, with nigh-unlimited access for anyone to all the music ever made, this is a nearly impossible task. It can not be said enough.
The opening track “NaNaNa” starts with a foreboding melody before swiftly transforming into the catchiest pop-hook of the year. “Sea of Love” is the stand-out track and features Graney’s best performance (oh yeah, remember when artists performed on recordings?), but “The Big Hell No” is my darkhorse favorite of the collection, a track that pairs Graney’s most colorful lyrics with the band’s most despairing dimension.
The Sea of Love EP clocks in at just under 16 minutes. It’s dark, yet uplifting. The EP betrays a love of well-crafted music, and the hard-work surely required for its creation has paid dividends. More than any other record yet in 2010, it has kept my attention and earned my embarrassing adoration. I’m going to have to insist you buy it. Current front-runner for Album of the Year.
BUY THE RECORD HERE.
The Californian will celebrate the release of the Sea of Love EP TONIGHT, Tuesday June 1st, at Spaceland. $7.