It was another great year to be a local music fan. The diversity of music in this town is pretty staggering. A few of these releases will pop up on national top 10 lists while a few others will probably only be on my own.....
10) Glasser: Ring (True Panther) – If you see a lot of local bands, then you’ve seen dramatic singing paired with weird outfits and extreme electronic beats (is it Har Mar’s fault?). For the record I like Har Mar, but a lot of the more tribal stuff makes me want to tear my eyes out and jam pencils into my eardrums. Glasser’s record teases at some of these elements, but falls solidly on the good side of the spectrum.
9) Local Natives: Gorilla Manor (French Kiss) –Somebody had to form a band that sounded like 1/3 Grizzly Bear, 1/3 Fleet Foxes and 1/3 Vampire Weekend – might as well be them. Nice harmonies. My only real knock is that some of the songs could have been tightened up a bit (but you could say the same thing about Fleet Foxes), overall a very solid debut.
8) Flying Lotus: Cosmogramma (Warp) – I’m not really a fusion fan or beats guy, so this isn’t really in my wheelhouse. But this is the kinda thing that I like to put on when I’m working (just what every artist wants to be – background music). Very few lyrics in there to get in the way, but plenty of textures to hold up on repeated listens.
7) John Carpenter: Fairy Tales Forgotten (self-released) – On this record, he’s got a little bit of a weird, almost sinister Shudder to Think vibe. His live show can be significantly more rocking and blues heavy. Either way, he’s an artist I’m keeping my eye on. Stream Album
6) Warpaint: The Fool (Rough Trade) – When you follow a band through its early evolution and lineup changes, you’re never quite sure what their debut record’s going to be like and how they’ll be received on the international stage. With Warpaint, it was even better than expected on both counts. Atmospheric and moody afterparty jams.
5) The Henry Clay People: Somewhere On the Golden Coast (TBD Records) – Longtime followers of the band were expecting more new songs (especially with the outtakes floating around out there) but as the first nationally distributed album, it’s a good representation of the band. They’re not concerned with changing the world, just helping you temporarily escape from it and I think Paul Westerberg would approve of that sentiment.
4) Off!: First Four EPs (Vice) – This has so much energy it transports back in time to seventh grade when I first got into punk and hardcore. The Circle Jerks were always a favorite so it’s appropriate that Keith Morris is involved. At the age of 55, Morris’ intensity puts all you youngsters to shame.
3) Le Switch: The Rest of Me Is Space (self-released) - The band tweaked their lineup, making more of a straight rock ‘n’ roll album this time around. I’ve always appreciated the honesty and way Aaron Kyle lays it all on the line when he sings. I volunteered to write press materials for this, so you probably already knew I was a fan.
2) Radar Brothers: The Illustrated Garden (Merge) – I was excited when the band met me at Verdugo Bar to gauge my interest in working on their press materials and even more excited after I took the record home and listened to it. They’ve been my favorite LA band for 12 years and this is their best release since 2002’s And the Surrounding Mountains. It’s got such a rich, warm, comforting sound – quite possibly my most listened to record of the year.
Download "Horses Warriors" (click through to Merge)
1) Aloe Blacc: Good Things (Stones Throw) – If you’re a fan of old school soul, Aloe Blacc’s the real deal. He’s an insanely talented singer and it comes off so effortless. He blows away all the other local, neo-soul singers I’ve seen. His “Femme Fatale” cover might be my least favorite song on the record, but it’s probably a good entry point if you’re not a big soul fan.MP3: Dark End of the Street (not from the album)