Posts Tagged ‘L.A.’

Cat Scan – “Lysol”

Nice little tweaker from L.A. band Cat Scan who have an LP out now on Volar. The band swings wild through the punk and post-punk markers along the tail end of the ‘70s and on into the ‘80s but on “Lysol” they’re stretching the silly putty sound transfer from The B-52’s through to the squeak-pop of We Have a Fuzzbox And We’re Gonna Use It. The track shreds the senses — built on a rubbery bass that seems like it might spill the bounds of its record grove and infect a few other tracks. The hand-off between the male-female vocals gives the track a spark, but like the ‘52s before them, what makes it tick is that they know when to let goofiness grind into catharsis in just the right way. The whole album’s got the spirit of the best ripped-shirt art-party rumblers and its a damn delight. Gonna want to get this one nudged on the volume and tapping at the window panes.



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Itasca

Following on her 2016 album for Paradise of Bachelors Kayla Cohen resumes her guise as Itasca for a hushed tape of intricate, fingerpicked folk for micro label Dove Cove. The tape is presented in collaboration with poet and visual artist Gunnar Tchida, who provides the album’s titles and accompanying artwork as inspiration. Cohen’s folk has a twilight quality to it, rambling through deft string work that recalls Daniel Bachman and Alexander among a few others from the current Fahey school of blues ramblers. Skewing from her contemporaries though, she injects a fragile peacefulness into her pieces that sends the knotted tumbles scattering in the wind, consumed by the hiss of tape, the howl of the wind and the ozone fry of an amplifier. On tracks like “Snow Melt,” she’s working closer to the shadow of Ben Chasney to channel the restrained smolder of angry fuzz that’s burning up the strings like a fuse. Elsewhere she dampens the ramble to a hush and works in weaves of straightforward folk with a verdant lope of guitar that pushes the meditative qualities to the fore.

If this is just a stopgap, then it’s a rather well landing one, divining meditative tangles from the ideas laid out in Tchida’s titles. It’s a departure from her more glossy work for PoB, but one that makes up for fidelity with intimacy. The work of Itasca communes with nature so well it’s almost a shame that this is released in the damp of winter’s chill. It begs to be walked around outside. While I’d imagine this is less of a burden in her current surroundings in California, those of us stuck back near her native Hudson Valley feel the cabin fever only grow tighter while this plays on the speakers. Still, the melt is soon to come and by then the wood and sinew grooves of Morning Flower will have wrapped the brain tightly with their knotted embrace.




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Massage – “Crying Out Loud / Under”

Seems all that jangle in the South Hemi is bleeding its way northward and those with the right kind of ears are tuning in. L.A.’s Massage take heart in the sweet and dour strums of the Twerps/Boomgates vein of Aussie pop, while also taking a swerve past strains of the Sarah Records germ that may have planted a seed during guitarist Alex Naidus’ tenure in The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. In general though, as the band attests, they live in L.A. but their hearts are adrift in Australia. The A-side sways with three part harmonies and a pining lyric that’s delivered with wistful sweetness by keyboardist Gabi Ferrer. On the flip, things kick up to a faster pace with a bright shock of pounding riffs and some of those Sarah records notes floating though, weaving their vocal harmonies into bittersweet knots with the deft skill of Veronica Falls at their best. The EP was recorded by Papercuts’ Jason Quever, who’d knocked into the band practicing around the corner from his studio. The veteran engineer gives things a subtle sheen and sparkle that compliments the band’s effervescent pop. Its a pretty perfect double shot that’s bound to knock around your skull for days. Here’s hoping that this grows to a full length soon.




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Walter – “Poetics Of Space”

A harder look for Walter, the L.A. band that’s made of members of Meatbodies and Ducktails. They’ve definitely absorbed a few of their fellow L.A. brethren, leaning into a storm-wrung psych cloud that dredges up Wand comparisons for sure. The song is the A-side to a new single out for garage well-spring Famous Class and hits in full in July along with a new b-side, “Like The Fly”. Ominous and doom laden, this is a good look for Walter and a step up in my opinion from their eponymous album from last year. The best change is that Chad Ubovich’s recording bumps up the fidelity and gives the band a bit more punch. The ozone fried volume paired with a headspun space rock bent lets the song fully embraces its title. Great to see this band developing along with some of the best bits of the L.A. underground. File it next to your Mind Meld, CFM and Meatbodies 7″s for maximum impact.



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Frankie and The Witch Fingers – “6,000 Horns”

L.A. via Bloomington garage-psych slingers Frankie and The Witch Fingers are back and touting a fuller sound that’s buoyed by sun-streaked harmonies and a driving guitar wail that shows their 60’s allegiances but nods a head to their current garage trappings. The chorus is huge and swaying, the organ is wobblin’ and swellin’, the rhythm section makes it apparent that they have no intention of stopping for breath. It’s practically euphoric in its crest of the hill and by the time it all breaks down for a finish, everyone’s sweaty and ready for more. Lookin’ out for their longplayer, Heavy Roller, landing in July from Permanent.



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Zig Zags

Zig Zags are back with a follow up and its fodder for those that loved the first. If you were a metal kid that fell in with the punks, then every inch of Running Out of Red is prime listening. The album is raw, but with a knife edge. Producer Chris Woodhouse gives the album a spit sheen that glints off the jacket studs of the heaviest head in the pit. At its heart, though, the album is soaked in beer and sweat and denim and something tells me that the L.A. crew would have it no other way. There’s plenty who pack in the heavy riffs, especially in Castle Face’s ever expanding roster, but Zig Zags are bringing the fiery solos and and the raised fist rumble like no one else in that stable.

The genius of Running Out Of Red is that every song seems like it could soundtrack a chase sequence in Maximum Overdrive. The band’s been to the alter and made an offering and now they’re just bringing back unburdened garage metal for those who want speed and spit and to just not think for 30 minutes of unadulterated shred. I can practically smell the studio in each take, and that grease caked, leather punch has been sorely lacking of late. If this year’s general turmoil is any indication of entropic slide into the void, Zig Zags seem like a pretty good soundtrack for the chaos. Note perfect to burn it all down.




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Bleached

By now you should need very little reason to queue up to listen to Bleached, but Welcome the Worms is certainly another strong argument in their favor. Doubling down on the pop aspects of Ride The Heart, the band teamed up with producer/engineer Joe Chiccarelli to take their sound from big to huge. The songs on WtW are stung with post-relationship crumble, the beautiful chaos of youth and a welcome kind of self-assured bravado that knows that sometimes everything can be solved with the ozone crunch of guitars and a hook that snags hard and twists deep. In a way there’s a part of me that laments the state of modern radio here, because its a damn shame that “Sour Candy” will never get to be the kind of ubiquitous pop hit it deserves to be. Its one of the strongest moments on an album full of strong moments and has that feeling of endless summer in its veins mixed with a pang of ennui for every night that passes.

The tone of WtW is shifted to a heavier place, not only emotionally but musically. There was still an element that could be construed as girl group or surf in Ride The Heart, but here they’ve embraced the heart of punk-pop and deepened their roots in a 70’s and 80’s radio ready sheen that explodes these songs across the panorama of your speakers. A love letter to their city of Los Angeles, the album is crammed with photo booth vignettes that wiz by in a blur but leave their mark on you much longer than the needle runs the groove. They’ve wiped clear any doubts that Bleached aren’t sitting at the adult table, even if they’re still telling a few YA tales.



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