Unknown Mortal Orchestra continue their transition into the best funk band from another dimension with Multi-Love. The title track sounds like Stevie Wonder on a space-rock kick, as frontman Ruban Nielson raspily sings of polyamorous affairs over proggy movements and danceable beats. “Like Acid Rain’s” disintegrated R&B dazzles and melts in your ears. “The World Is Crowded’s” lockstep groove accompanies lush soul vocals singing quizzical lyrics, asking “did she blow my brains out?” like a robot waking up from a one-night stand. And “Ur Life in One Night” takes the psychedelic-leaning funk and soul of the ’70s and making it sound truly interstellar, as though Curtis Mayfield and Funkadelic records were transmitted via satellite to an alien galaxy, and this was the responding message. But however proudly UMO wave their freak flag, Multi-Love is still rooted in reality. “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone” begins on a film-noir opening, with cinematic horns, booty-shaking jungle drums and 007 riffs growing into curious melodies that curl into an earworm chorus on perhaps their best song yet. Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s particular universe is perplexing only until you get your footing; then you’ll never want to leave. It’s one of the best things we’ve heard all year.
Thee Oh Sees – “Withered Hand”
This is exactly what we needed this week—some brain pummeling riffs from John Dwyer and Thee Oh Sees. It’s the second track (after “Web”) that they’ve premiered from Mutilator Defeated at Last (out May 18 on Castle Face) and it’s just one of the most exciting songs they’ve ever put out, an all-guns-firing guitar assault with a gorgeous solo. Listen via Pitchfork. Just in case you thought he ever slept, Dwyer also is releasing another electro-rock solo album under the Damaged Bug moniker called Cold Hot Plumbs, due June 1 on Castle Face.
HEALTH – “New Coke” video
Remember when coke was the devil, and every time someone took it on TV or in movies they died or something awful happened to them? Glad we’ve progressed beyond that—aside from the whole slow-motion projectile vomiting thing in this new HEALTH video. Right, there is a lot of post-party barfing in the video below, so beware. The booming electro-noise-pop track comes from the L.A. band’s just-announced new album, DEATH MAGIC, due Aug. 7 on Loma Vista.
Kelela – “A Message” video
L.A. electro-soul singer Kelela put out a mesmerizing mixtape in 2013 called Cut 4 Me that ended up on many year-end lists. Now not only is Cut 4 Me getting a physical release (due April 7 on Fade to Mind), she’s announced a new EP called HALLUCINOGEN, out May 5, as well as an official debut album in the fall. HALLUCINOGEN is produced by Arca, who you may recall also co-produced Bjork’s Vulnicura and FKA Twigs' LP1, and whose otherworldly stamp can be heard on “A Message,” on which Kelela sounds like a bizzaro world Janet Jackson, navigating romantic complications amid a jagged landscape of icy electronics and sudden space. “A Message’s” Japanese animation-style video is directed by Daniel Sannwald. HALLUCINOGEN also includes “The High,” a track she unveiled last year.
From L.A. and S.F.’s garage rock scenes to Compton’s blossoming rap artists, California artists represented well in 2014. Here are 25 of our favorites from the year, in alphabetical order.
On Worship the Sun, L.A.’s Allah-Las get some dirt on their boots by scuzzing up their sunny surf-garage sound with some rattling guitar solos, stonery grooves (“Buffalo Nickel”) and head-spinning psych-rock tunes (“501-405”).
Cherry Glazerr had the debut record of the year for Burger Records, moving unstoppably on the strength of its garage riffs and singer/guitarist Clementine Creevy’s teenage caterwaul.
Festival season continues with a new one called Deserted At The Palms, happening at The Palms bar May 17 out in Wonder Valley.
Where's that, you might ask? You may have heard of Pappy and Harriet's over in Pioneertown and the suddenly hip town of Joshua Tree, but just past those places, off Highway 62, is the even more remote Wonder Valley, home to the surreal Palms bar. It's a dusty, friendly saloon with an outdoor stage owned and run by the band The Sibleys, who also play at every show at the bar.
|Thee Oh Sees|
Sound cool? You haven't even heard what bands will be playing yet. It's a doozy of a lineup—prolific Bay Area garage rockers Thee Oh Sees; Welsh songstress Cate le Bon, who just graced our own little stage; lo-fi greats White Fence; surrealist pop duo Prince Rama; dark disco diva Nite Jewel; jangle-pop maestros Dream Boys; minimal wave lady Geneva Jacuzzi, who will DJ at Amoeba Hollywood May 30 at 8 p.m.; wild folk band Bloody Death Skull; and so much more, including Chrome Canyon, Rainbow Arabia, Amanda Jo Williams, Hott MT, Alex Lilly, Gun Outfit, Sex Stains and, of course, The Sibleys. The show is put on by L.A. Record's Daiana Feuer and Jessica Espeleta, the latter of whom will be DJing here Friday May 23 at 8 p.m.