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Weekly Roundup: Them Are Us Too, Dunes, Birth Defects, Nic Hessler, Gateway Drugs, Jack Name

Posted by Billy Gil, February 6, 2015 09:17am | Post a Comment

Them Are Us Too – “Us Now”

them are us tooCali duo Them Are Us Too call to mind early Cocteau Twins with a more electronic bent, or School of Seven Bells precursor On!Air!Library!, if anyone remembers that cool band. Kennedy Ashlyn’s vocals dance up and down a ladder scale while Cash Askew’s guitar wails around her and little keyboard notes sparkle overheard. The band’s album, Remain, is due March 24 on Dais.

 

Dunes – “Circles”

dunesAnother wonderful dream-pop track comes to us from L.A.’s Dunes. True to its name, “Circles” is somewhat elliptical, starting with cascading, layered vocals and reverbed guitars before moving into silky disco beat and prickly post-punk guitar lines. Dunes’ last album was Noctiluca back in 2012. They’re working on new material now and will play with Roses and Moaning Feb. 16 at Harvard & Stone.

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10 Great L.A. Indie Albums from 2012

Posted by Billy Gil, December 19, 2012 04:25pm | Post a Comment

In all the end of 2012/the world list-making, smaller releases tend to get ignored in favor of the ones everyone knows about. So I decided to do a list, in no particular order, of my favorite albums by L.A. artists this year that were released on small labels or were self-released — and which didn’t get as much press as others. That means no Flying Lotus, Kendrick Lamar, Best Coast or Ariel Pink, even though the releases by those people are great and you should listen to them, too. (Read my top 50 albums of 2012 here, with more L.A.-based artists like Miguel and Julia Holter.) All of these are great up-and-coming artists, seek them out!

 

Kim FreeAngel Shadow (LA’s Fine)

Kim FreeKim Free’s minimalist bass playing, ethereal voice and starkly beautiful violin playing come together to cast an entrancing spell on Angel Shadow. See her live to witness her virtuosic looping at work. Check out photos from her Amoeba Hollywood performance here!

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Local Stuff: New Albums Coming From The Fresh & Onlys, Lavender Diamond

Posted by Billy Gil, June 29, 2012 01:14pm | Post a Comment

The Fresh & OnlysSan Francisco’s The Fresh & Onlys have announced the title, Long Slow Dance, and tracklist for their new album, as well as tour dates for a West Coast tour. For anyone who loved 2010’s Play It Strange, and there were plenty of us, the news of a new album from The Fresh & Onlys is exciting stuff. From the sound of “Yes or No,” they’ve ditched a lot of the reverb for a more straightforward shimmery rock sound. I say all the better; “Yes or No” is the best thing I’ve heard from them yet, unafraid to hide its gorgeous melody in the garage. The album comes out Sept. 4 on Mexican Summer.
 
 

Tour dates:
 
07/21 San Francisco, CA Phono Del Sol
08/05 Big Sur, CA Woodsist Fest / Henry Miller Library
09/05 Santa Ana, CA Constellation Room *
09/06 San Diego, CA Soda Bar *
09/07 Los Angeles, CA The Echo *
09/08 San Francisco, CA The Independent *
09/09 Santa Cruz, CA The Catalyst Atrium *
09/11 Sacramento, CA Ace of Spades *
09/13 Portland, OR Mississippi Studios *#
09/14 Bellingham, WA The Shakedown *
09/15 Vancouver, BC The Media Club *
09/16 Seattle, WA Crocodile *
 
* = with Terry Malts
# = with Grass Widow
 
 
Tracklist: 
 
1. 20 Days and 20 Nights
2. Yes or No
3. Long Slow Dance
4. Presence of Mind
5. Dream Girls
6. Fire Alarm
7. Executioner's Song
8. No Regard
9. Euphoria
10. Foolish Person
11. Wanna Do Right By You
 
 
 
I’m a huge fan of L.A.’s Lavender Diamond. There are few artists you can say are truly “special,” and Lavender Diamond and their frontwoman, Becky Stark, truly are. This week they released the first song, “Oh My Beautiful World,” from their upcoming new album, Incorruptible Heart, due Sept. 25 on Paracadute. On releases like Imagine Our Love and The Cavalry of Light EP, Stark and co. constructed grandiose folk-rock songs that relayed a disarming, unforced naivete. “Oh My Beautiful World” has glorious harmonies, sounding somewhat like Stark’s other musical project, The Living Sisters, but producer David Fridman (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev) ups the girl group quotient with big “Be My Baby” drums and acidic breakdowns partway through. I never would have thought to pair Fridman with Lavender Diamond, and I can’t wait to hear what else they come up with.
 

 
Tracklist:
 
1.     Everybody's Heart's Breaking Now
2.     Dragonfly
3.     I Don't Recall
4.     Just Passing By
5.     Teach Me How to Waken
6.     Come Home
7.     Forgive
8.     Light My Way
9.     Oh My Beautiful World
10.  Perfect Love
11.  Everybody's Song
12.  All The Stars
 

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Valley Concert Space TakeOff Holds Fest at the Smell

Posted by Billy Gil, April 25, 2012 04:29pm | Post a Comment
takeoff van nuysTakeOff in Van Nuys is one of those great DIY spaces that comes about out of necessity. In an otherwise dreary part of Van Nuys, near the airport, the small warehouse space is a gulp of fresh air, offering Valley kids an all-ages concert venue, self-screen-printed T-shirts, cassettes and records from local bands, new and used clothing — “pretty much anything that has to do with music, art and skateboarding,” according to Jordan Espino, the young entrepreneur behind the space, along with longtime friend and co-owner Luis Castillo.
 
“Luis and I decided to open TakeOff when we needed a new practice space,” Espino explains. “When we found the spot, we immediately decided we should have a little store front because of the size and weird industrial location. We do all the booking and pretty much keep the space running.”
 
The space is celebrating a full year of existence with a benefit show April 26 at the Smell in Downtown L.A., featuring a number of great local artists: Dunes, David Scott Stone, Cat 500, Protect Me, Mutations, Stripper Pussy, Parallaxscroll and DJ Zen Mafia.
 
When they opened the venue last March, Castillo said it was to have a headquarters for all of their projects, whether it was their band, silk-screening or hosting local skate sessions.
 
“After a couple of months, we started realizing that kids around the valley DID want a space and DIDN'T want to drive all the way to L.A. for it,” he said. “We hope we can stay open, continue to have shows and break the stereotype that people have on The Valley.
 
TakeOff Fest starts at 8 p.m., is $8 and is all-ages, with a limited number of free TakeOff mix CDs. The Smell is at 247 S Main St. in Los Angeles.
 
Take Off is located at 15100 Keswick Street #A Van Nuys, CA 91405. Email them at takeoffvn@gmail.com for show info and store hours. More info at takeoffstore.blogspot.com.

Checking in With Abe Vigoda

Posted by Billy Gil, February 24, 2012 10:20am | Post a Comment
abe vigodaIt’s been a pleasure to track the development and success of L.A.’s Abe Vigoda. We’ve seen them go from teens growing up in Chino reconfiguring punk and no wave to their own devices (2006’s Kid City); to making their guitars sound like steelpan drummers on a coke binge in songs like “Bear Face,” from 2008’s Skeleton; to slowing things down for cooler, sexier takes on their guitar wildness (2009’s Reviver EP); to employing coldwave and industrial influences for a gorgeous noir-pop album with 2010’s Crush.
 
Abe Vigoda guitarist Juan Velasquez has been a good friend for a while. (And he’s an Amoeba alumn to boot!) He’s the self-described “bossy” one of the band, which includes singer/guitarist Michael Vidal, bassist David Reichardt, and drummer/programmer Dane Chadwick. I decided to corner Jaun to talk about the band’s development and new writing sessions. The band plays the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs tonight with Dunes and the Center for the Arts in Eagle Rock Sunday with Chromatics.
 
How are the writing sessions going?
Juan: It’s good. We haven’t worked on stuff in a long time. At first we were kind of just jamming around, it was kind of shaky. But we kind of have this new song going that I like. But it’s different than what I thought it was going to sound like. I don’t know, it’s really more power-poppy than I thought. It’s kind of fun!
 
When did you guys write that new song you’re performing?
Juan: That song, Michael and Dane got together and wrote the structure of it on a laptop, almost like a weird dance song. And then they showed it to us and we started working on that. That was like, God, a while ago, actually. That must have been like eight months ago or nine months ago? It was a long time, and we haven’t really worked on anything sense.
 
Do you usually write songs that way?
Juan VelasquezJuan: We usually write songs all together. We just jam together and work out the songs that way. That’s kind of how we’ve always done it. And the song that you’re referencing, that’s the only song we’ve written in that weird way, which I think we might do more of, but it felt good for all of us to get together in a traditional way and just like work on a song. So I think we’re gonna start doing a mix of both — working on songs on a computer and practice and then like mixing the songs up.
 
How do those two songs, the one Michael and Dane did and the newer one, compare?
Juan: They’re totally different. I think at least for me, because I wasn’t part of that songwriting process as much, I was part of it when we started formatting it and working it in, but they’re different just because I feel like I have more freedom to do stuff with this new song like for my own part, and before my part was already written. But it was fun to just do that, it was more like, working on the smaller details. But they’re both like a lot simpler than our older songs. So they’re both like similar pacing and like less stuff happening. Kind of like more room between all the instruments and stuff. It’s kind of like what we’re excited about — writing songs that don’t have a million parts shoved into one.

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