Album Review: Slothrust – The Pact

Punk-adjacent for the win.

August 2nd, 2018
Lex Voight
Category: Review

Punk elitism has always been a thing, for both good and ill. On one hand it has been partly what keeps the punk scene fiercely apart, a refuge for the alienated, lost, dejected, and hopeful. On the other hand, it can be used as a bludgeon, clumsily batting away friends and allies because of some perceived slight to its equally perceived intellectual superiority. Ultimately the punk should be a bout inclusivity, but apart. Its a oxymoron-ic contradiction, as so much of humanity is.
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Kevin George – Fortina EP

Is emo rap growing up?

July 31st, 2018
Lex Voight
Category: Review

I suppose it was inevitable, even before Drake became the mega powerhouse he is beating out the likes of no less than The Beatles for records and sales, that his brand of emotional rap and r and b (best exemplified by his sophomore release Take Care) would have a ripple effect through genre. It’s still strange to me to think of Drake as an established artist, almost an elder statesman of the music industry who’s songs are already being covered, remixed, and recovered by artists in ways that folk songs were passed along. He has interwoven his songwriting into culture itself, and thus his influence would only surprise people like me who live under very particularly-shaped rocks.

The recent infusion of so-called emo and cloud rap is in no doubt due in some small part to Drake, as much as it is how popular across the board the mid 00’s emo phase was. Drake has perfected and branded himself the emo-rap king and minting himself fortune and fame. While he may not have invented the genre, or at least not purposefully, his success necessitates a lot of imitators, emulators, and those who will take his sound to its next evolution. And we have begun to see those changes with artists in that scene. Similar to the emo scene of the 00’s, however, we have seen a blowback to the genre label itself; artists distancing themselves from a moniker that has blown up too quickly to, in the minds of many, have paid its dues and focuses way too much seemingly on image.

Regardless, Kevin George stands firmly in the midst of this tide. His sound is unrepentantly an adaptation of that same emo r and b genre, but his approach is a surprisingly mature one when so many similar sounding acts are getting into all sorts of ridiculousness. From his boldly confident artwork that shines for its understated simplicity, to his self-assured choices in songwriting. There are no gimmicks here, just a new and raw talent, which, in this day and age of face tattoos to gain attention and “stand out,” is a surprisingly daring move in a genre that seems to place so much importance on superficiality. Throughout the record Mr. George deftly integrates contemporary trap beats with cool-as-silk r and b, creating Weeknd-esque pop.

Horse Feathers — Appreciation

Easy rock done right

May 21st, 2018
Lex Voight
Category: Review

The Eagles can be a polarizing band.

With just enough country influences to not quite be rock, enough rock to not quite be folk, and a kind of omnipresence that can, at times, be cloying, the “easy-rock” band has as large a legion of haters as it does of avid fans. 

I, for one, fall into the former camp, which makes Horsefeathers’ Appreciation all that more remarkable by taking the template of folk-influenced easy rock and country and turning it into something that is soulful, enjoyable and deeply charismatic.

The 70’s rock and folk influences are immediately evident but gone are the cloying vestiges of the 60’s movement-gone-wrong that many of the folk-rock bands of the era fell prey to. In its place is a soulful, earnest effort that straddles its many influences with aplumb. 

Review: The Distillers @ The Observatory

The Distillers vs. The World That Didn’t Change

May 7th, 2018
Lex Voight

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”– Terry Pratchett
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Django Django/Tank and The Bangas @ Fonda Theatre

Fans got a little rhythmic mix on Wednesday night

April 23rd, 2018
Melissa Karlin
Category: Lead Story, Review

A double bill can be many things. It can be two things related but different coming together for a night show. It can be two unrelated things that sort of make sense so they are slapped together. Or it can be as it was Wednesday night at the Fonda Theatre: two opposite ends of the spectrum coming together to tell a story.

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Show Review: Khruangbin @ Lodge Room

This is not what I expected.

March 30th, 2018
Kyle B. Smith

Image by Mary Kang

It started without a greeting. With some hammer-ons, some hammer-offs. It brought to mind a sitar. An opium den. Someplace ex-US. Laura Lee cooed a bit. This is what I expected. Loungey, but you know, cool. There were hot pink search lights scanning the crowd. Within two minutes, it was officially notarized that this was going to be all vibe. “Como Me Quieres,” it was. Then it was “Dern Kala,” and I don’t know what that means. But Lee and guitarist Mark Seer were front and center doing coordinated knee-bends. Ok, maybe this is a bit looser than I expected. Our greeting finally came as follows, “Los Angeles, California!” This led to “August 10.” Donald Johnson sat back behind his kit, all pocket. There was no rush in these songs. Psychedelia came courtesy of projected soap bubbles, just like they used to. Then those search lights were blowing highlighter yellow over the darkened Lodge Room. Things slowed a bit for “Friday Morning.” Yes, there were echoes of Floyd, and friends asking, “What would the masons think?” Then Seer – what a name – told us that the Texan trio were very humbled to be there. Then “Mister White” arrived, as did the wall-to-wall sensation that whatever the fuck the caricaturized DOPE is supposed to mean now, this must be it. Some of these songs off new LP Con Todo El Mundo could one day graduate to be indie jazz standards? Maybe not. I don’t care. Wait, no. They’re a house band in Jabba’s lair? No, I’m high. Wait, what? In any event, Khruangbin is a band of few words, many sounds, dreamy intros and quick transitions. But then somewhere past the midpoint of the seamless set was a whole James Brown element coming on strong. The sorta mystery of how this impressive sold out three-night run came to be evaporated with one of those soap bubbles, at which point the hipper-than-thou crowd assembled in Highland Park was simply fucking lit. This is not what I expected. Khruangbin had succeeded in turning a room full of typically staid Angelenos in to something out of a late night set at Bonnaroo. Musical shape shifting, if you will. The beer was cold. Egos were lost. Lead guitar was given room to breathe. Slippery solos never betrayed dexterity, even when they put some stank on it. Are those Shaft quotes? Ohhhhh noooo, ohhhh yessss here it comes, it’s your grandma’s quilted-together crowd pleasing, hip hop medley! “Footsteps in the Dark” (for some, Cube for others, I had to look it up), “Summertime,” “I Got 5 On It.” Better stop right now, or somebody’s gonna get pregnant (thank you Prince). After a long strut with the covers, Khruangbin returned to their intellectual property to cool things down before the encore. The first encore. The Donald, alone on stage, swiveled his chair away from his kit, to face a piano at the back of the room. Then a delicate little pecked number came out of nowhere like a bar fight. It did not fit the proceedings, yet somehow did. His comrades returned. It got tropical sounding, and balmy in the air. Clothes were coming off. The tune accelerated in to a foot stomping jam treading closely behind the Dead. A bit ersatz, but hey it’s Saturday night in what’s become a juke joint, and it’s clear that nobody cares. Especially when things dropped in to a straight modern funk disco hybrid. And then it was over, all too soon. The room started to empty. There were smiles, sweat, cups kicked around on the floor. Where’s the next party?? But those with ganas remained. For a while they clapped, and insisted and, yes, that second encore did happen. Cribbing from the Godfather of Soul a bit more with a pinch of The Doors, it was chemical cross-pollination. A helpful drug for when Khruangbin vamped over instructions directed to the remaining faithful to “make new friends.” Sure why not? And so everyone started talking to strangers. I turned to my right and met Tim. What a concept. Then, a call your Uber-hip warning, “We gonna hit it and quit it.” And Khruangbin wasn’t lying. Their crusade in the name of vibe was over.

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Show Review: Lucy Dacus @ Teragram Ballroom

Has Lucy Dacus ever told a lie in her life?

March 25th, 2018
Kyle B. Smith
Category: Review

Lucy Dacus came to the Teragram Ballroom Thursday night and played a show that was better than Cats.

On tour in support of gem LP Historian, the supremely understated Lucy Dacus was one member of a four-person outfit, each dutifully contributing an even share to the sturdy performance. There was nary a sour note. It was that type of impeccably clean sound where the negative space mattered as much as the instrumentation.

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Cornelius @ Fonda Theatre

The eclectic Japanese producer’s music exploration

March 22nd, 2018
David Fisch

Japanese producer Keigo Oyamada, also known as Cornelius, transformed the Fonda Theatre Tuesday night with an audio-visual performance in support of his latest record Mellow Waves.

Photos by David Fisch

Starting the show with a projected video welcoming the crowd, the white screen quickly fell away to reveal Cornelius himself and three members on a stage of cued lights and a backing screen of complete visual wonderment to accompany his eclectic music. With tracks like “Helix/Spiral,” “Drop,” and “Wataridori,” Cornelius brought a visually kaleidoscopic journey and an energy and instrumental charisma unlike anything I’ve seen as of late. Even the more monochromatic “In A Dream” was brought to life with mesmerizing flair. The talents of his band was unquestionable as they melded between electronic and prog rock and vocal automation via theremin.

This might very well have been the concert not to miss in 2018, and here’s hoping that Cornelius return to Los Angeles very soon so that everyone (including Scott Pilgrim director Edgar Wright, in attendance) can bask in such a creative and innovative musical event.

Check out the rest of our photos and watch/listen to “In A Dream” below.

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Son Lux @ The Regent

A crisp night in support of Brighter Wounds

March 12th, 2018
David Fisch
Category: Lead Story, Review

What began as a Los Angeles bedroom project of sorts for Ryan Lott has turned into a fully-formed and smashing trio by 2018, as evidenced by Son Lux’s performance at The Regent in Downtown Thursday night. When Lott announced to the audience before the end of the set how endearing it was to be performing with his best friends, it felt earned, seeing the sometimes breathtaking musicianship they employed, as one solid unit of experimental beats and titillating soundscapes filled the room and the souls of the sold-out crowd.

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