My Top 50 Albums of 2012

Posted by Billy Gil, December 17, 2012 07:24pm | Post a Comment

50. Purity RingShrines

Purity Ring make Cocteau Twins­-style dream pop by way of Salem’s hard-hitting witchhouse on an album more notable for its smooth blending of related genres than for its actual songwriting, but they’ve got a sweet sound nonetheless.



49. Cold ShowersLove & Regret

Cold Showers’ short and sweet debut heralds the arrival of a great new L.A. band, beaming shoegaze guitars over darkwave synths and goth-style vocals. (Read my review of Cold Showers' show here.)


48. Django DjangoDjango Django

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Album Picks: Melody's Echo Chamber, Chris Cohen, The Soft Pack, Lavender Diamond, Plus Albums Out Tuesday

Posted by Billy Gil, September 25, 2012 04:30pm | Post a Comment
Album Picks:
Melody's Echo ChamberMelody’s Echo ChamberMelody’s Echo Chamber
My favorite new band out right now is Melody’s Echo Chamber, whose enchanting self-titled debut is a study in ebullient dream-pop perfection. The story goes that Melody Prochet hooked up with Aussie psych-rock greats Tame Impala, calling on the band’s Kevin Parer to beef up her beauteous, French-pop-inspired arrangements with the kind of soaring sonics employed by that band. What comes out is indeed a perfect marriage. It’s one of those records where the cover perfectly captures the mood: mysterious, colorful and ethereal, you get lost in the folds of this record and don’t want to come out. Fans of Broadcast and Blonde Redhead, take note. The only downside is that aside from a few strong standouts, like the garage rocky opener “I Follow You” and lush (and Lush-esque) “Endless Shore,” the record blurs together. No matter — for fans of this kind of thing, you won’t know where the time has gone. As with like-minded peers A Sunny Day in Glasgow, the emphasis is more on album as experience, following dissociative dream logic in which melodies and arrangements are allowed to meander and linger and flow into one another in a singular happening. In a word, divine.
Chris CohenChris CohenOvergrown Path
Chris Cohen is one of the great underappreciated guitar players of our generation — listen back to Deerhoof records from when he was in the band for proof of his and John Dieterich’s insane riffery and interplay. Since leaving that band, he’s spent time with projects such as Cryptacize, but now on his first solo album and John Cale Paris 1919 moment, we get to see what a strong singer, songwriter and arranger he is, as well. “Monad” opens the album with the sort of skewed guitarwork that will make early Deerhoof fans squeal, but that quickly fades into a brisk, smart soft-pop track punctuated by splashy drums, not unlike one of Yo La Tengo’s more ornate songs. Cohen packs his intricate guitarwork into skilled compositions, such as the Latin-psych vibing “Caller No.99,” in a way that was never as apparent in his flashier Deerhoof contributions. Though his voice is unremarkable, its nice-guy pleasantness carries listeners swiftly through mellow but tricky compositions, avoiding the sort of fussiness that could have resulted with punchier performances. By the time you arrive at the sweet “bum bum bum bums” of the irresistible “Optimist High,” you’re floating on a cloud of contentment and ready to follow Cohen just about anywhere. Overgrown Path is really the perfect fall album, cozy and warm and subtly, almost magically, life-affirming.

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Weekly Roundup: The Soft Pack, Cold Showers, Chelsea Wolfe and More

Posted by Billy Gil, September 21, 2012 10:00am | Post a Comment
The Soft Pack – “Bobby Brown”
Sweet song from The Soft Pack’s excellent new album, Strapped, coming out next week! Preorder it here. Love the chantalong vocals and reggae swing, but the best part is easily the psych-sax solo breakdown in the middle.

cold showers
Cold Showers
– “Violent Cries”
The second song from L.A.-based Cold Showers’ upcoming debut album, Love and Regret, oozes cool blue menace from beneath a synth-rock veneer. Love and Regret is due Oct. 9 from Dais. It’s streaming over at Stereogum.

Gangi – “Gold”
This new song by L.A.-based Gangi starts out mellow and psychy and catchy and just keeps getting better as it goes, with fuzzed out guitars and warbled gospel-style backup vocals that make the “put your hands up” lyrics sound like a religious plea. The folks at Filter have it up to stream. Their album Gesture Is comes out digitally Oct. 2; if you like what you hear, help them out at their Kickstarter to get a physical release and distribution! They’ve also got the following upcoming local shows:

09/22 Apple Valley, CA - The Full Moon Desert 2012
09/30 Fullerton, CA - Commonwealth Lounge
10/01 Santa Monica, CA - Central SAPC
10/02 Los Angeles, CA - The Satellite (Record Release Show)

Chelsea Wolfe – “Appalachia”
A while back Chelsea Wolfe premiered "The Way We Used To" from her upcoming acoustic-based album, Unknown Room: A Collection of Acoustic Songs. Now the California-based “doom-folk” artist has unveiled “Appalachia,” which sounds less like Appalachian folk to me and more like a beautiful death march, accompanied by exquisite viola. The album is due Oct. 16. Preorder it here.

Sweet ValleyEternal Champ mixtape
The more electronic-based side project of Nathan Williams of Wavves and his brother Kynan has debuted the hip-hop vibing Eternal Champ mixtape. You can download it free at their Bandcamp. Their album Stay Calm was released last month, and they’re on tour now with GZA and Killer Mike. Nathan Williams will play guitar for GZA as he performs the hip-hop classic Liquid Swords in its entirety. That tour hits S.F.’s Fillmore Sept. 25, Sacramento’s Ace of Spades the 26th, Santa Ana’s the Observatory the 28th, L.A.’s El Rey Sept. 29 and Solana Beach’s Belly Up the 30th.
pinbackPinback – “His Phase”
San Diego’s Pinback are back with a new album and we have the second new song released from it now. “His Phase” has the propulsiveness of a Pinback track like “Fortress” with a pretty lush chorus. Loving the sound of this new Pinback! So glad this band is back. Information Retrieved is out Oct. 16. Preorder it here!

Earlimart – “10 Years”
L.A.-based Earlimart’s first album in four years, System Preferences, is coming out physically Oct. 16. Here’s the second song we’ve heard from it, the shoegazey “10 Years.” Sounds like they haven’t lost any of their splendor.

Death Grips – “@deathgrips”
Sacramento-based hip-hop-noise group Death Grips earlier this year released the absolutely pulverizing The Money Store and have their second album of the year, No Love Deep Web, due Oct. 23. I’m not sure what the album or song have to do with Twitter or the Web, but I do know that Death Grips’ music tends to assault you from every angle with dizzying sound until you can’t think straight. That is sort of what the Internet is like. “@deathgrips” was produced for Adult Swim's Singles Program; find it here. It sounds great, and if No Love Deep Web is anywhere near as good as The Money Store, they’ll have two of the best albums of the year.

Tamaryn – “Heavenly Bodies” video
S.F.-based shoegaze songstress Tamaryn has Tender New Signs, Oct. 16 from Mexican Summer (preorder it here!). Her first album, The Waves, was a winner, and the slow-motion psychedelia of this video and song is getting me pumped for the next one.


– “Blackout”
S.D.-based punk outfit Plateaus will release their self-titled debut record Oct. 30 on Art Fag (preorder!). The sound is pretty basic melodic lo-fi rock and a lot of fun, pretty straightforward with lyrics like “We’re comin’ out!” that you can only get away with on a debut record/song. Which means everyone can drop their pretentions and enjoy that sort of thing. I know I do! They’ll be at S.F.’s Thee Parkside Sept. 28 and L.A.’s The Smell Sept. 29.

ESP – “Serenade” video
Speaking of cults, L.A. electro-rock experimentalists ESP have premiered their second video, “627,” a creepy visual expression of their synth-ballad that sees the band performing some sort of ritual before a crystal that projects cool fluorescent images before these kabuki yetis steal their souls or something. These art school kids! It’s not all image though; the song and band are really good. Their EP is available at Bandcamp; hopefully we’ll see a full-length in the near future!

ESP - 627 (Official Video) from Chris Coats on Vimeo.

Local Stuff: The Soft Pack, Pinback, Ariel Pink

Posted by Billy Gil, August 24, 2012 12:14pm | Post a Comment
The Soft Pack – “Tallboy”
Every taste we’ve gotten thus far of the new Soft Pack album, Strapped, has been an indication that the album presents a leap forward for the band in terms of songwriting and production. “Tallboy” is no exception, with its gently tugging melody and subtle horns that come in halfway through. Strapped is out Sept. 25 on Mexican Summer (preorder here). They're also playing FYF Fest Sept. 1-2; tickets are still on sale at Amoeba Hollywood!



Pinback – “Proceed to Memory”

It’s been a minute since we’ve heard from Pinback, since their last album, Autumn of the Seraphs, in 2007. I grew up loving this band and am excited to have them back with a new song and album, Information Retrieved, out Oct. 16 from Temporary Residence Ltd. The same elements I fell in love with before are still intact — great guitar and vocal interplay, intimate sparseness — but I haven’t heard a soaring chorus like the one on “Proceed to Memory” before in a Pinback song. Leaves me hungry to hear the rest of the new album!


Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – “Only in My Dreams” video

More fun from the Ariel Pink camp — the video for “Only in My Dreams” from Mature Themes, out now, features Pink connecting with various ladies after being kicked out by his girlfriend (played by fellow L.A. goodie Geneva Jacuzzi). You’ll just have to watch to see this soap opera ends.


This weekend is Echo Park Rising in Echo Park. Tons of great local bands are playing all day Saturday, including Voxhaul Broadcast, Betty White, High Places, Black Apples, Amy Jo Williams, Dante vs. Zombies, NO, Gothic Tropic, Fool's Gold and more. Check out their site to find out more; see set times here; or just stroll around Echo Park haunts like 826LA/Time Travel Mart, Barragan’s, The Echo/Echoplex, Origami Vinyl, Taix, Little Joy, Short Stop, Echo Country Outpost, Bedrock Studios, Lot 1 Café, Masa and more.

Local Stuff: Ariel Pink, Ty Segall, Puro Instinct, LOL Boys, Starred, Soft Pack

Posted by Billy Gil, July 13, 2012 02:29pm | Post a Comment
So much West Coast goodness coming our way this week, I’ll just get right into it …
New Ariel Pink – “Only In My Dreams”
Ariel Pink debuted a new song this week from his upcoming Mature Themes, the regal-sounding “Only In My Dreams.” Loved the “Baby” cover, but it’s great to hear that his new originals are great, too. Mature Themes is due Aug. 17 on 4AD.

New Ty Segall Coming — Again
Won’t I ever shut up abou this guy? Not when he’s making such great music so consistently. On the heels of his White Fence collab Hair and his searing Ty Segall Band’s Slaughterhouse comes a new album just credited to the king of SF garage himself, called Twins. It’s out Oct. 9 on Drag City. The next time he’s close to this neck of the woods is Oct. 14, at the Treasure Island Festival.
New Puro Instinct – “Dream Lover”
Speaking of Mr. Pink, his friends in dreamy duo Puro Instinct have a new song, “Dream Lover.” It’s not a Mariah Carey cover, although I bet that would sound amazing. This song finds them branching out, getting bigger than the sound they debuted on Headbangers in Ecstasy. Sounds like My Bloody Valentine by the pool. It’ll be on an EP later this year.

LOL Boys – “Changes” [ft. Heart Streets]
Originally hailing from Montreal, these guys make sort of lo-fi jazzy house music. And they are called LOL Boys, which is pretty good, although I feel like it should have been LOL Boyz. I’m pretty bewildered by the whole thing in a good way. Their debut Changes is out July 17.

starredStarred – “No Good”
Now this is where it’s at — hazy L.A. acoustic rock from Brooklyn transplant Liza Thorn and cohort Matt Koshak. Thorn used to be in a band called Curls with now former (WTF??) Girls frontman Christopher Owens, which might give you a clue as to the duo’s pop songwriting chops. “No Good” is just all kinds of good, touching those sweet spots for which we usually turn to the likes of Mazzy Star, The Sundays, Cowboy Junkies, some Cocteau Twins and Dum Dum Girls. Check it out at Pitchfork. I really can’t wait to hear more Starred. A 7” of “No Good” is promised sometime in 2012 from Pendu Sound, which also has their spacier track “Cemetery” up to stream.

New Soft Pack – “Saratoga”
One of our favorite local bands The Soft Pack are coming back with a long-awaited second album called Strapped, due Sept. 25 on Mexican Summer. “Saratoga” moves quickly with gauzy noise that seems to erupt everywhere, like the best half-remembered night of your life. It’s a classic indie rock rev-up jam, like The Walkmen’s “The Rat” or Broken Social Scene’s “Almost Crimes.”

Shows This Weekend:
Friday: Sonny & the Sunsets, Wet Illustrated, The Blank Tapes @ The Echo (8:30 p.m., $8)
Saturday: Viva Pomona with La Sera, Grass Widow, So Many Wizards, Tijuana Panthers and more @ The Glass House (5 p.m., $14)
Sunday: Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration with Triple Chicken Foot, Rod Melancon, Son Ark @ The Echo (5 p.m., FREE)

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