By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
VARIOUS ARTISTS East Side Sound Vol. 2 (Bacchus)
The Blendells East Los Angeles’ spontaneous eruption of Chicano rock & roll was one of the most potent homegrown scenes of the entire 1960s, yet this wild garage-bred legacy is still mystifyingly overlooked. Drunk with rock music’s frantic drive, R&B’s finger-popping glamour and soul’s smolder, the youth of East L.A. drummed up some of the most sizzling big beat ever. A crazy union of Motown, oldies, British Invasion and Stax/Volt influences, most of it was put across by teenagers barely able to play their hastily chosen instruments (dig it, we’re talking about 12- and 14-year-olds). That mix of instinct, passion and sheer inexperience has always been rock & roll’s key ingredient, and the 11 groups represented here exploit it in high and happy style.Listen to Eastside Sound Vol. 2: Real Audio Format Down Whittier Blvd. Sonny & Cher
The disc kicks off with Godfrey & Friends’ frosty beatnik rap “Down Whittier Blvd.” (actually a sort of studio-summit event, with Thee Midnighters backing KTYM’s popular R&B DJ Godfrey Kerr), and twists from stomping party-time R&B instrumentals, to outright goofing (get a load of the Atlantics’ “Sonny & Cher”), to inflamed ardor (“I’m in Love With Your Daughter”). Alongside four tracks by the impossibly baby-faced Mark & the Escorts (fronted by the son of legendary singer-guitarist Lalo Guerrero), the other outfits here — the Cassinos, Thee Enchantments, the Blendells, the Premieres, the Atlantics, Thee Impalas — all share a common drive, a funky, soulin’ mood and a walloping, casual sense of groove that manages to overcome any deficiencies by their own out-and-out exhilaration.
Roughly spanning 1962–67, this collection emphasizes rocked-up numbers, rather than the sentimental ballads so prevalent to the East L.A. style, and just about every track is a knockout. The bands uniformly perform with an earnest pubescent vulgarity that is, in all its slop and sincerity, quite moving. Fraught with such delicious conflicting elements — the wide-eyed innocent’s hesitant yet compulsive flirtation with delinquency and lust — East Side Sound Volume 2is a potent representation of rock & roll’s innate, almost supernatural power. (Jonny Whiteside)
DISCO BISCUITS They Missed the Perfume (Megaforce)
Much ado has been made over the “granola-glowstick connection,” especially in the Northeast, where dreadlocked and patchouli-scented youth have learned that the rave offers the same drugs, all-nite twirl fests and communal love found at a Phish concert. If there is indeed a connection, it only flows one way — c’mon, all those filthy hippies and their cultish obsession with the Dead just isn’t the future. Even so, we’re going to see fewer Widespread Panics and Leftover Salmons and more bands like Disco Biscuits, electronicats who improvise in real time with actual instruments yet cannot hide their love of gadgetry.
While all of They Missed the Perfume sifts and sloshes as soothingly as a Calgon bath, the “Bisco” sound (as its fans call it) occasionally snags on immediately recognizable pop signatures that sometimes recall the neoclassical bombast of Mannheim Steamroller or (ugh!) Bruce Hornsby–esque piano tinklings (“I Remember When”); the sweeping synths of “Mindless Dribble” would be right at home in any Vangelis-scored ’80s flick; in “Spacebirdmatingcall” and “Haleakala Crater,” the keening vibrato of Jon Gutwillig’s guitar flexes like the arena-rock dick-measuring contests of yore. Overall, though, this gentle jam is tight as clockwork and squeaky-clean as keyboardist Aron Magner’s JS 8000, no mean feat in a sound-pie this thick. New Agey lyrics about the sun and stars abound, but mostly the words weigh in like mantras, sung as a chorus by Magner and bassist Marc Brownstein.
Nonlinear and open-ended, They Missed the Perfume is a six-song tableau of swooshing sci-fi F/X and crisp beatdowns where an undulating snakebed of bass pulls it all toward Earth, and Gutwillig’s advanced guitar dissertations build the band’s stairway to heaven — an innocuous mix of brawn and bliss. (Andrew Lentz)
VARIOUS ARTISTS Def Con 4 (Vortex/Celestial)
L.A.’s about to blow up, y’all: While some of you party people never got past the glowsticks and four-on-the-floor of trance and house, there are other Angelenos who search the terrain seeking the latest in frantic bass and beats. And while there are also those elitists who feel that drum ’n’ bass is played out and consider themselves way beyond tech-step, still, listen up, d&b is not only thriving, it’s thriving in Los Angeles. Though it’s still a dubplate culture and strives to emulate the U.K. sound, players here are adding a uniquely L.A. experience to the mix.
Produced by Hive, Pieter K and B-Boy 3000, Def Con 4 is a product of Celestial Records, a label owned and operated by the promoters and resident DJs of Koncrete Jungle (a d&b and hip-hop night that originated in NYC), and what they’ve done is bring our hometown hip-hop band, the Freestyle Fellowship, into the dark and noisy world of d&b. Def Con 4takes the dance floor away from disco and delivers it to beat terrorists, lacing bass-driven rhythms with atmospheric hysterics and threatening verbiage, compelling the listener to dance aggressively.