Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles’

Disposable America Record’s appearance on this list – god, those guys are smashing it right now – comes in the form of Los Angeles quartet Soft Blue Shimmer. On ‘Fruitcake,’ the aptly named group fuse dreamy vocals and spun gold guitars to make a sound that’s quite simply heaven made. Written about not being able to shut off your thoughts, contrastingly ‘Fruitcake’ provides an illusory island of calm where worries are dispelled as soon as your feet hit the beach. 

Seasonal reminder that your average nine-track shoegaze album is cheaper than a new sweater! The debut from Los Angeles Soft Blue Shimmer arrived just in time for the temperatures to drop freakishly late in the year, with Heaven Inches Away providing the audio equivalent to throwing on the biggest top in your closet and spending an unreasonable amount of time just sitting next to your radiator, thinking about getting up to do something productive. Upon early inspection, the album’s climax appears to be the hazy sendoff, recalling the same cosmological space warbled about by Cocteau Twins with the cool, laid-back demeanor of someone who could only be unstuck in time in the frantic year 2020. 

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Noisy dream pop from LA, CA. Charlie, Kenzo, & Meredith.

Released November 27th, 2020

Marvin Country is Marvin Etzioni’s ambitious fourth album. The two-record set hits the streets on April 17, 2012 and features Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, John Doe, Richard Thompson, Buddy Miller, Maria Mckee, and more. Marvin Etzioni is an American singer, mandolinist, bassist, and record producer, Etzioni is best known as a founder of, and bassist for, the band Lone Justice.

In 2012, Marvin Etzioni released a double album extravaganza: Marvin Country! It featured guest appearances from folks including John Doe, Lucinda Williams, Buddy Miller, Steve Earle, The Dixie Hummngbirds, Murry Hammond, and Richard Thompson. Even old Lone Justice cohorts Maria McKee, Shayne Fontaine, and David Vaught were along for the ride. But, the origins of some of those songs go back two decades.

Marvin issued Marvin Country: Communication Hoedown himself, on cassette in 1992, saying “I was single-handedly trying to bring back cassettes at a time when the industry said they were done. I still liked the analogue sound versus the high glossy digitalness (to coin a new word) of CDs.” It has never had an official release until now.

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There’s country, there’s alt. country, and there’s Marvin Country. It’s a magical place, way off the map, populated by back-porch philosophers, hobos, brokenhearted lovers and spacemen and presided over by the man the L.A. Times called “one heck of a songwriter.” Grammy award winner Marvin Etzioni has been known over the years as producer (Counting Crows, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Peter Case), sideman (T Bone Burnett, Dixie Chicks, Grey Delisle) and songwriter (Cheap Trick, Victoria Williams) Even before there was No Depression, Marvin was a co-founder of the seminal roots-rockers Lone Justice. It’s safe to say Marvin is revered in Americana circles worldwide. “Marvin Country!” is his ambitious fourth album, and first in over a decade. The two-record set hits the streets on 16th April. The mandolin man is back. “(Etzioni’s) material ranges from stark folk-based tunes to raw Stone’s-like rockers.”

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This time around Marvin lacks his mind blowing poetry & almost makes up the CD set with simple repeatable blues refrains. Yet he is his normal playful self with analogue sound effects, inner jokes, & songs about death & salvation. I hear more Blues & a few Cajun songs than the number of any country style of music. Some other songs are beyond categorization. There are many references about past Country greats as with Pasty Cline & Gram Parson, even the death of Bob Dylan. Don’t worry Bob is still around, but Marvin is thinking about that day that all of us shall meet.

Maiah and I wrote this song during the first lockdown and recorded, produced, and released it ourselves (so thank you to all of you on Bandcamp who continue to support independent musicians – this is very meaningful to us and allows us the privilege to continue doing what we do).

When we wrote this song back in late March, we had no idea we would be going into a second wave and a second lockdown when this song was released, on November 20th, 2020. For us, the delivery of this song into the world at this particular moment, is aligned with our intentions. We wrote this song as a tribute to the non-linearity of time and love, which is to say: 2020 has been a year of distance, but those who are in our hearts are there forever, regardless of time and space, and we will see each other on the other side of this.

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As we dip into the holiday season, which is likely a more charged time this year than others as many of us will not be with loved ones celebrating, we hope this song reaches you, lifts your spirits, reminds you that nothing is forever, and we will get through this and be together again.

Released November 20th, 2020
Written and performed by Doe Paoro & Maiah Manser

Los Angeles-based group The Spyrals are gearing up to release their new album ‘Same Old Line’ on October 30th. Taking cues from The Velvet Underground, 13th Floor Elevators and The Stooges by way of Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Muddy Waters, the record sees the band carve out eight songs of raw, back-to-basics rock’n’roll that marries white-knuckle garage-blues, psychedelic repetition and sun-baked alt-country to create “something new with an old soul”. The record is their fourth full-length to date and their first since signing to London-based label Fuzz Club.

Armed with a guitar, harmonica and fuzz pedal, band-leader Jeff Lewis formed The Spyrals when he was living in San Francisco in the early 2010s. Now, though, he’s based in Los Angeles and finds himself backed by a new line-up of musicians. ‘Same Old Line’ was cooked up in new drummer Dash’s garage and recorded over the course of a few days and nights straight to a Tascam tape machine. Jeff recalls: “This is the first album recorded with a new line-up after I moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles. At the time of recording we werenʼt sure if this would be a Spyrals album or something under a different name. At some point during the mixing process I decided to keep moving on under the Spyrals name, so to me this album is a real turning point in the band’s history.” The result is a record that’s just as rooted in the sounds of Nashville and the Mississippi Delta as it is the band’s West Coast garage-rock forebears. 

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“Same Old Line is a great addition to the blues canon and sits well up against some of the great records of the genre, both by the past masters and their modern acolytes” – Louder Than War

“The latest offering Same Old Line features influences from The Stooges, The Stones and classic era Creedence all distilled through a haze of Crazy Horse smoke and mirrors.” – Shindig Magazine

Nothing like a bluesy thrasher to lift you up and rock your spirits back to life. … The Spyrals are coming in hot with the thrasher blues tunes, their fresh take on a vintage rock ‘n’ roll sound. “ – Backseat Mafia 

released November 14, 2020

Raised in California and steeped in the unique elements of the West Coast, Dream Phases filters the magic that emanates from all that surrounds them. From the sun-soaked beaches, verdant valleys, and soaring mountains, to the hard-boiled legacy of Los Angeles and the bright, neon promise of Hollywood, the band is a reflection of the environment in which they are immersed.

Dream Phases began with a vision of evolving the sounds launched by legendary L.A. bands such as The Byrds, The Beach Boys, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, as well as those who followed, including The Rain Parade, Elliott Smith, Darker My Love, and Autolux. As the synths on the song attest, ‘Helen Highway’ was written while listening to a lot of Gary Numan, with the synthesizer tracks layered in a way that lets the listener fall into the song and be swept along. The lyrics relate how we only get one chance at life, reminding us not to be complacent and to remember we can change continually, pursuing the life we truly want to live. With the influences of not only Gary Numan, but The Verve and The Velvet Underground, the song builds to an ending of pure release. ‘Tandy’ is about reflecting on a past relationship and questioning its outcome. Written with a garage-psych feel influenced by L.A.’s Paisley Underground movement (The Rain Parade, The Dream Syndicate, The Three O’Clock), it’s a song writer Brandon Graham envisions being played by DJ friends at local psych club nights. Like The Creation, the band uses a bow on some of the guitars to create an especially unmistakable psychedelic sound. A 12-string Rickenbacker overdub on the bridge is evidence of Brandon’s immersion in a massive book on The Byrds (especially their 1965-68 heyday) while making the song.

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Releases October 30th, 2020

Recorded by Dream Phases Spring/Summer 2020
Written by Brandon Graham

Brandon Graham – Vocals, guitar, bass, synths, engineer
Shane Graham – Drums, percussion, engineer
Keveen Baudouin – Bass, guitar, synth

Exclusive: L.A. Noise Pop Band Dummy Announce <i>EP2</i>, Share New Single "Pool Dizzy"

Earlier this year, Los Angeles noise pop band Dummy shared their debut release, “Dummy EP”, via Pop Wig Records. Now the group has put out their second release “EP2”, Last month, they shared “Pool Dizzy”—the first taste of EP2. Their debut was rooted in krautrock and synth-laden noise pop, and they even threw in a foggy folk tune and an eight-minute new age-esque closer. EP2, on the other hand, leans more on hypnotic synths than driving guitars—apart from “Pool Dizzy.” The track’s throbbing beat, murky guitars and retro keyboards are rejuvenating, and their heavenly, overlapping vocals are the cherry on top. It’s the sound of droning pop euphoria.

Dummy returns five months later with “EP2”, their second release of 2020. Featuring a mix of screeching feedback-laden pop songs woven with non-sequitur ambient soundscapes, “EP2” sees the band further developing their drone-pop style with inspiration taken from kosmische, Japanese ambient, new age, and video game music. Recorded mostly at home using freeware and a smartphone, the six tracks forgo polished production in favour of a kaleidoscopic collage of improvisational sketches.

Available on cassette from Born Yesterday Records.

Dummy – Dummy EP2 Thursday Morning 00:00 Pool Dizzy 04:35 Nuages 07:31 Mediocre Garden 10:38 Second Contact 14:52 Prime Mover Unmoved 17:04

When it comes to volume, Sarah Tudzin likes to keep listeners on their toes. “Kiss Yr Frenemies”, was her debut album as Illuminati Hotties, playfully leaps between a variety of decibel-dictated sonic moods from the indie-pop canon. Hushed acoustic reveries give way to knife-sharp stabs of guitar; contemplative, finger-picked tranquility crescendos to giant slabs of post-rock feedback and trumpet fanfare. “You only like me when I’m sad,” she sweetly sings during a quiet interlude on “Pressed 2 Death,” an otherwise boisterous rambler that’s dotted with kiss-offs.

Tudzin—who is technically Illuminati Hotties’ sole permanent member, although she records with a full band—is a veteran studio rat, and it shows in the album’s dynamic sounds. In addition to working as a production and engineering assistant to big-time indie producer Chris Coady (Beach House, TV on the Radio), she’s logged studio time with acts ranging from Porches to Macklemore and worked on the sound design for the original Broadway cast recording of Hamilton.

Her expertise gives her own tracks a funhouse-like quality, with an eruption of noise, six-stringed squeal, or purposely lo-fi effect around every corner. Even without knowing that additional vocals on the album are credited to “Everyone at Jesse’s Party,” you get the sense that she had fun making this record. Tudzin describes the sound of Illuminati Hotties as “tenderpunk,” and that feels right. Every emotional abrasion and pang of longing on Kiss Yr Frenemies is conveyed with just the right mix of sadness and acerbity. On the single “(You’re Better) Than Ever,” she confesses, “All the baddest words I knew came pouring out/When I heard you feel better/Better than ever.” Along with stylistic forebears Los Campesinos!,

Tudzin’s sound sometimes recalls indie-pop lifer Rose Melberg’s many projects, as well as 1990s Vancouver punks Cub—all acts that have regularly challenged the common notion that indie pop is all cloying sentiments and bookishly restrained instrumentation.

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Released May 11th, 2018

 

Mike Krol is a band/idea out of Los Angeles, with additional members in Minneapolis, Madison, and Seattle. This Thursday at 9pm ET, the one and only Mike Krol will premiere his “Halloween Deadstream” concert on NoonChorus this week. Fans both old and new can expect all the hallmarks of a Mike Krol live performance: his full band in costume, strobe lights, smoke machine, distortion, and more! With a 72-hour rebroadcast of the performance. 

Krol has also announced a CD reissue of the seasonally appropriate Mike Krol Is Never Dead: The First Two Records, out January 29th, 2021. The 3-CD box set includes Krol’s first two albums—I Hate Jazz and Trust Fund—housed in miniature-sized reproductions of the original album tri-fold wallets, and an additional disc filled with a comprehensive selection of outtakes, demos, and B-sides from that era. 

Most listeners were introduced to Mike Krol in 2015 with the release of his Merge Records debut, Turkey. Few knew at the time that Turkey was actually Chapter 3 of the Krol saga, and that he had self-released two records years earlier. To the delight of his new legion of fans, Merge reissued those early albums as the 2017 collection “Mike Krol Is Never Dead”. With that release, “I Hate Jazz” and “Trust Fund” found new life, and the inclusion of digital-only rarities led to fresh demand for this CD reissue.

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Self-released on LP in 2011, “I Hate Jazz” was the opening salvo of World War Krol. Only 500 copies were pressed; they were given away to anyone who showed interest (and many who showed none whatsoever). Including Krol classics like “Fifteen Minutes” and “Like a Star,” the record had long been unavailable. Trust Fund followed in 2013; its 500 LPs sold out on the ensuing tour, fuelling a mini-mania that would elevate it to cult status.

Here’s Krol take on the new CD edition:
One of the most frequent questions I get on tour is “Where can I get your first album on CD?” (second only to “So… do you actually hate jazz?”). As a Compact Disc lover myself, I always assumed we were a dying breed, and that manufacturing this music on plastic would only fulfill the personal satisfaction I’d get from having my full discography lined up on a shelf. But over time, the fans have spoken and demanded I make these albums available on CD. So here they are, with the rarely-seen-in-person full album art intact. Completists, rejoice!

originally released July 14th, 2017.

All songs written and performed by Mike Krol
With the help of

Phil Mahlstadt – Bass on all tracks
Michael Sienkowski – Keyboard, Tambourine, Whistling
Elliott Kozel – Lead Guitar, Organs, chord changes for “Locker”
Erik Duerr – Heavy Metal Guitar, Janitor
Andy Brawner – Nothing

From the album Mike Krol Is Never Dead: The First Two Records, out July 14th, 2017 on Merge Records.

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From the release of Love’s March 1966 debut single, “My Little Red Book” b/w “A Message to Pretty,” it was clear the Los Angeles Group was a breed apart from its contemporaries. The group, led by Arthur Lee, built much of its music upon a snarling, sneering proto-punk aesthetic not completely removed from the style of bands like the Seeds. But just under the surface, there lurked a deeper complexity and nuance.

There had been multi-racial bands before Love: though they never achieved any kind of commercial success, the short-lived Rising Sons were led by Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder. But Love had a black man as its primary writer and front man, and enjoyed the higher profile and accompanying marketing boost that came with having signed to Elektra, home of (among others) the Doors.

Still, Love would manage only one Top 40 single in its time together, 1966’s “7 and & 7 Is,” a track off of the band’s second album, “Da Capo”. That album also displayed Love and Lee’s musical ambitions: a side-long track, “Revelation,” ran nearly 19 minutes. This was a full 18 months before Iron Butterfly released its own opus, “In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida.”

A House is Not a Motel” continues with the use of acoustic guitar as a central instrument. An insistent drum pattern and a subtle yet busy bass line part support Lee, who once again begins singing in a lilting manner. But as the song progresses, he builds in intensity, eventually reaching a rock ’n’ roll roar. Against an emphatic series of chords, Echols takes a pair of lean, sinewy electric guitar solos. For most of its first two minutes, the overall feel of “A House is Not A Motel” is one of restraint. But after a propulsive drum fill from Michael Stuart, multiple overdubbed distorted lead guitars explode into the mix; amid whoops and hollers from the band, those solos take the song to its fadeout.

The melancholy “Andmoreagain” plays up the album’s baroque character. Strings and acoustic guitars are the central instruments, and Lee’s vocal channels Mathis more overtly than anywhere else on the record. “The Daily Planet” is built around a vigorously strummed acoustic guitar, with deft stabs of chiming guitar and a beefy bass line. The mid-tempo rocker has a feel closer to the Byrds; though he’s not credited on the album, Buffalo Springfield guitarist Neil Young oversaw the track’s arrangement.

But on both “Andmoreagain” and “The Daily Planet,” it’s not really Love; instead Lee is backed by session musicians. Co-producer Bruce Botnick brought in the Wrecking Crew players when he found the band unable to play what was required. Apparently, the shock of being sidelined would eventually lead the band members to get their collective act together; the remaining tracks on Forever Changes would feature the band (plus the string and brass players as needed).

That said, the band members take a back seat on the subtle “Old Man.” Cellos and violins are at the centre of the fragile arrangement, based upon an idiosyncratic melody from Lee. Brass and tinkling piano are added to the mix in the song’s second half. And “The Red Telephone” is almost a continuation “Old Man.” With a similar arrangement and a (different) odd melody, it features a stronger beat and an insistent harpsichord part. The seamless interplay between acoustic guitar leads and the string players underscores the fact that the fiddles and cellos were part of Lee’s arrangement ideas from the beginning of the project. Lee’s spoken lines at the song’s end give “The Red Telephone” a vaguely psychedelic feel, but that is punctured by Lee’s “All o’ god’s chillen gots to have their freedom,” delivered in a kind of self-parody of black American dialect.

Near unanimous in their praise for Forever Changes, critics often point to MacLean’s “Alone Again Or” as the strongest track on the record. But a strong case can be made that Arthur Lee’s “Maybe the People Would Be the Times or Between Clark and Hilldale” deserves consideration as well. The brass arrangement in particular fits the song perfectly, helping provide an air of mystery and suspense. It helps, too, that for this track Lee had written a more straightforward melody. The instrumental break features a series of musical dialogues, first between acoustic guitar and the brass, then between electric guitar and the horns, and finally between Lee’s vocalizing and the auxiliary players.

The baroque arrangement that opens “Live and Let Live” is jarring when set against Lee’s lyrics about snot on his pants and threatening a bluebird with a gun. The song soon segues into a harder, rock-flavored feel; throughout its five-plus minutes, “Live and Let Live” shifts between the two styles; the bridges rock even harder, and toward the song’s end, stinging lead electric guitar makes one of its rare appearances on Forever Changes. By the hard-charging final moment of the tune, its bears no resemblance to the manner in which it began.

As effective as those rocking moments may be, it’s on the album’s gentler tracks where Love truly shines. “The Good Humour Man He Sees Everything Like This” is a case in point. The tune sports another odd melody from Lee; his vocals twist and turn amid an intricate pizzicato string and brass arrangement that rivals “Alone Again Or” in its understated brilliance.

“Bummer in the Summer” is Forever Changes’ outlier track; Lee adopts a sneering, spitting vocal demeanor that’s closer in style and character to “7 and 7 Is” and “My Little Red Book” than it is to anything else on the album. The arrangement is similar to the Leaves’ reading of “Hey Joe” mixed with a bit of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away.” Other than session player Don Randi’s piano, the track doesn’t feature any auxiliary musicians.

Forever Changes was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008

Forever Changes concludes with “You Set the Scene,” a track built upon crystalline acoustic guitar picking, an insistent bass line and some sawing cellos. Lee’s double-tracked harmony lead vocal is among his best work on the record. In the place customarily occupied by a guitar solo, a soaring string ensemble arrangement, punctuated by brass, provides a stirring conclusion to the album. As the song winds toward its end, the majestic brass and string parts build to a crescendo, and then fade to silence.

Notably, outside of music critics, few recognized the specialness of Forever Changes upon its November 1967 release. The album reached a lowly #154 on the Billboard album chart, and the single “Alone Again Or” b/w “A House is Not A Motel” made it only as far as #123. But as had been the case with fellow Los Angelinos the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, Forever Changes fared far better in Great Britain.

The lineup that made Forever Changes soon fractured, though Love would go on to make four more albums in the decade to follow. Each of those has its high points, but all are flawed, and none succeeds in doing more than hinting at the once-in-a-lifetime brilliance of Forever Changes.

As a happier postscript, in the later years of his life—as previously-overlooked albums began to earn their due—Arthur Lee, who died in 2006 at age 61, was able to capitalize on the belated recognition of the record’s importance. With members of L.A.’s Baby Lemonade, he would tour, presenting the complete Forever Changes in concert. Those shows would often feature auxiliary musicians playing the album’s brass and string arrangements, resulting in a live reading that successfully captured the nuance and excitement of the 1967 studio recording.

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momma ayntk

Earlier this summer, Etta Friedman was visiting her family in Yerington, Nevada, when she crashed her cousin’s motorcycle and broke both wrists. “I let go of the clutch on the bike and popped a wheelie,” the 21-year-old musician says. “And then immediately went and went into the front of my aunt’s trailer and crashed directly into it.” Friedman was taken to the local hospital, where she was wrapped in splints. “They gave me this really old-school-looking baggie full of Percocet,” she adds. “I was like, ‘Very cool.’” With a sound that stems from the duo’s love of Veruca Salt and the Breeders, is a welcome throwback to the Nineties, built on Friedman and Weingarten’s syrupy vocals that fuse together on each track.

The core of LA indie/alt band Momma is dual guitarist/vocalists Etta Friedman and Allegra Weingarten. With super catchy and fun verse-chorus-verse reminiscent of some of our favourite 90’s act, the band’s new music picks up where their previous album (which we loved here at BTR today!) left off and makes it bigger, brighter, and even hookier.

The highlight is the three-track sequence of “Stringer,” “Double Dare,” and “Carny,” which tell the dark tale of a news stringer on the margins of society. “If you’ve ever seen or on Netflix, it’s about people that chase car crashes and film them and then sell it to news stations,” Weingarten says. The character encounters a fight at a fair (“Double Dare”) and then abandons his lover (“Carny”). “Said goodbye to my sweetheart, or he might’ve been,” they lament on the latter song. “Warping his portrait, he’s a sideshow kid.”

“Two of Me” is an ambitious concept album by the budding grunge four-piece, Momma, made up of fictional vignettes dealing with morality, youth, and punishment, that songwriters Etta Friedman and Allegra Weingarten have populated with tragic heroes from their imagination. “The Bug House represents this sort of underground purgatory or hell that people are sent to as punishment,” Weingarten explains. “Two of Me’s songs are about coming to terms with the side of you within yourself that is maybe capable of darker things.” Momma’s second full length unfolds like a small town drama, where characters like video stringers and young lovers experience poetic justice in carnivalesque settings, detailed through Friedman and Weingarten’s illustrative lyrics.

On Momma’s sophomore album, the band explores some of their heaviest sounds to date, creating dense arrangements to match their complex storytelling. Two Of Me’s opener “Bug House” sets the stage for the record, with its expressive guitar tones and brooding mood. The album’s more abrasive moments like “Derby,” which alludes to the anxiety of a Jockey in a fixed horse race, are balanced by melodic ballads like “Double Dare,” which follows a romantic pair pining for a world away from their violent hometown. Inspired by songwriters like Kim Deal and Elliott Smith and bands like Ovlov and Throwing Muses, Momma has mastered their own dynamic song writing and gripping lyrics on Two of Me, creating a record that feels both familiar and intriguing.

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Yerington is a small town with a population of roughly 3,000 people. Friedman, who grew up outside of Los Angeles, has been visiting her relatives there for the last few years, along with her bandmate, Allegra Weingarten; the isolated locale helped inspire Two of Me, the recently released album from their band, Momma. “[It’s about] the glorification of a small town and all the secrets and gossip that happen

The band: Guitar and Vocals Performed by Etta Friedman and Allegra Weingarten
Drums by Zach Capitti Fenton
Bass on all tracks besides “Biohazard” Performed by Sebastian Jones
Bass on “Biohazard” Performed by Yarden Erez

“Two of Me” is out June 5th, 2020, on Danger Collective Records.