Friday, December 07, 2007
Top 10 Local LA Albums of 2007
As I said yesterday, it was a good year to be an LA music fan. Our labels released a slew of good local bands: Dangerbird (Sea Wolf, One AM Radio, Eulogies), Eenie Meenie (Great Northern, Division Day re-issue), Stones Throw (J Dilla reissue, Chrome Children compilations, Yesterday’s New Quintet, Jaylib, Madlib, Oh No, etc.), Dim Mak (The Deadly Syndrome, Foreign Born, Willowz, The Icarus Line, Sean Na Na). The all ages, DIY, Smell-based scene (No Age, HEALTH, Abe Vigoda, Mika Miko) got national publicity too. While many cities can boast great music scenes (Montreal, New York come to mind), few can compete with the overall breadth and talent in Los Angeles.
Jax and Scott have already laid their local top 10 lists out for you. Now here is mine:
1) The Broken West: I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On (Merge) – I listened to this record as much as anything else this past year. I’m not the only one who loved it, the Aquarium Drunkard has it in his top six and Scott has it at #1 on his list of top 10 local releases. They’ve evolved so much as a band since this came out, I can’t wait to hear what they come up with next. Paste Magazine has it on their list too.
2) The Minor Canon: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished (Tenderness) – The Minor Canon make heartfelt pop music complemented by horns and piano. Paul Larson’s a veteran of the local scene and played guitar on the new Dntel record.
3) The Deadly Syndrome: The Ortolan (Dim Mak) – Quirky indie music with accordions and an obsession with ghosts. Along with the Broken West and Redheads, they were on my short list of bands to watch in 2007. Ian Cohen wrote a solid review on Pitchfork (7.4/10), Jeff Weiss gave them a B+ on Stylus, and the All Music Guide gave them a 4.5/5 but they remain LA’s secret. Hopefully they get out and tour more in 2008 so the rest of the country catches on. Bronson at the LA Times recently picked them as a band to watch in 2008 (along with Airborne Toxic Event and Castledoor).
4) Frankel: Lullaby for the Passerby (Self-Released) – Frankel is Michael Orendy. He makes chamber pop along the lines of Richard Swift or Andrew Bird. Credit goes to the Aquarium Drunkard for turning me onto this one (and it shows up in his top six for year).
5) Earlimart: Mentor Tormentor (Major Domo) – Aaron Espinoza just keeps growing as a songwriter. This is his best stuff yet.
Download "Everybody Knows Everybody" (via Pitchfork)
6) Le Switch: Hello Today (Self-Released) – This EP has grown on me like a sick fungus. I used to describe them saloon rock, but it’s more like a Wings/ solo McCartney/ Early 70s Kinks sound. They’ve been in the studio recording their debut full length for the Aquarium Drunkard’s Autumn Tone label (see Jeff Weiss’ LA Weekly feature that mentions the blogger created labels here).
7) The Henry Clay People: Blacklist the Kid with the Red Moustache (Self-Released) – I’m a recent convert to the Henry Clay People. It’s damn good 1990’s inspired indie guitar rock played with passion.
8) The Moon Upstairs: Guarding the Golden Apple (Gifted Children Records) – I have a feeling that If I smoked weed, this would be even higher on the list. The influences are vast, but if I had to narrow it to one, I’d say solo George Harrison-inspired stuff.
9) The Parson Red Heads: King Giraffe (Yukon Records) – They’re such an incredibly likeable cult (I mean band). With their pre-drug 1960s-inspired sound, they come off like a newer version of the Beachwood Sparks before the Beachwood Sparks decided it was a good idea to sit down while playing. They’ll be doing the Monday night residency at Spaceland in January.
Tie 10) Patrick Park: Everyone’s In Everyone (Curb Appeal) – I used to go see Patrick Park play live a lot. This record’s more consistent than his debut and gone are the bombastic arrangements. The All Music Guide gave it 4.5/5 and compared it to Josh Ritter and Josh Rouse, which is a pretty good descriptor.
Foreign Born: On the Wing Now (Dim Mak) - Foreign Born has the potential to be the biggest of all these bands. Their anthemic, Echo & the Bunnymen-inspired songs have the potential to connect with all kinds of people. Peter from PB&J recently name checked them on NPR, Ed Droste from Grizzly Bear put them at #6 in his top 10 for 2007 and Bronson at the LA Times will probably have them near the top of his list. Pitchfork gave them a solid 7.2/10 too. Look for them on the road with St. Vincent in early 2008.
Download "In the Shape" and "Union Hall"
Honorable Mentions: Tigers Can Bite You, Qui, Busdriver, Eleni Mandell
Three bands to look out for in 2008:
1) Everest - Everest is a band of LA music scene veterans (Russ Pollard, Jason Soda, Rob Douglas, Davey Latter, Joel Graves) who released an excellent three song EP this year. They’ve been recording their full length and it’s one of my most eagerly anticipated releases of 2008. As the kids say, they’re slow burners. I dare you to go over to their Myspace page and tell me that new song isn’t great. They’re coming out of hibernation in January. See them at Spaceland on 1/14/08 and the Echo on 1/28/08. The LAist also picked them as a band to watch in 2008.
2) Le Switch – The EP whet my appetite for more. Aaron Kyle has grown so much as a songwriter and the rest of the band are strong contributors who flesh out the songs. They play the type of music that I love. They’re debut full length is tentatively scheduled for release around April 2008. See them at El Rey on 12/10 or the Scene on 12/12.
3) The Henry Clay People – They’re the cover boys on the new LA Record