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
MySpace-profile views: 36,398
Is it any surprise that there’s a current resurgence in old, weird, depression-era country-blues players? Dark times breed dark music, and Frank Fairfield delivers a sound as old as America. His first single, released as a vinyl 45 on the respected folk label Tompkins Square, features Fairfield on acoustic guitar and banjo conjuring Frank Hutchison, Dock Boggs and other early-20th-century singers who straddled Appalachian folk and delta blues. If at times he’s so true to his roots that he risks straying into the realm of mimicry, Fairfield’s guitar playing and songwriting transcend suspicion.
Commercial-placement idea: His version of “Mole in the Ground” would sell many bottles of Dr. Yellowstone’s Wizard Oil, a liniment used to help treat consumption and piles.
EDWARD SHARPE AND THE MAGNETIC ZEROS
MySpace plays: 90,856
Edward Sharpe is the nom de rock of Alex Ebert, whose other outfit, Ima Robot, trades in synthetic/electric buzz punk. With the Magnetic Zeros, however, Sharpe/Ebert offers something much more organic, and thrilling: a dozen-odd-member collective of acoustic and electric guitars, violin, trumpet, accordion and percussion (this being Topanga country, bongos are involved). The ragtag group looks a little like Dexys Midnight Runners, and features members moonlighting from, among other L.A. outfits, the Airborne Toxic Event, Fool’s Gold and Amnion.
Commercial-placement idea: Their “Home,” with the inspiring refrain, “Home is whenever I’m with you,” could be perfect for a Mr. Clean kitchen-floor-cleaner commercial.
MySpace-profile views: 88,324
Nite Jewel is part of a fascinating little scene of lo-fi cheesy dance music coming out of one corner of L.A.’s art scene, one that has strong connections to the Italians Do It Better world of New York City — but way more oblique and interesting. The pseudonym of young artist and philosophy student Ramona Gonzales, Nite Jewel crafts semiclumsy dance funk that feels like it was discovered in the disco trunk of your parents’ attic. Gonzales cites Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, Debbie Deb and New Jack Swing among her influences, but, like her Angeleno peers Ariel Pink and (the überfascinating) Geneva Jacuzzi, records strictly on a portable 8-track cassette deck. As a result, her bass-kicks don’t thump, they plop, and her synthetic snare snap sounds like an old New Order drum pattern. The whole thing is incredibly artificial, but intentionally and interestingly so.
THE SOFT PACK
MySpace-profile views: 420,556
The first time I saw the Soft Pack was at the Fuck Yeah! Fest in Echo Park last summer, when they were still called the Muslims and I’d only heard rumors. Within 10 seconds I knew they understood how to make rock & roll. Like the Modern Lovers, the Replacements and the New Bomb Turks, but not derivatively so, the Soft Pack — currently touring Europe with Franz Ferdinand — understand the power of simplicity and intent. Some bands step onstage and try to convince the audience of their worthiness to be up there. Other bands love rock & roll, and love playing it, and don’t need to convince anybody. They perform because it’s an awesome thing to do and it makes you feel good; they understand the secret truth that voice and confidence are not just half, but the entire rock & roll battle. If you’ve got them both you’ve got it made, and fuck the haters if they can’t see it.
Commercial-placement idea: “The Parasites,” with the lyrics, “I see you poltergeists, yeah you’re waiting out back,” would be good for Off! mosquito repellent.
MySpace-profile views: 123,340
Dawes could only spring from Los Angeles, or at least possesses that certain magical harmony and appreciation of wide-open spaces, rolling waves and Pacific breezes that’s inspired musicians for decades. Drawing from the same well that delivered us Band of Horses and Fleet Foxes, and springing from the same Topanga/Americana scene that supports Jonathan Rice, Jonathan Wilson and Jenny Lewis, Dawes touches on the same vibe using piano, guitar, bass and gorgeous harmonies. But where BoH and FF generously borrow from that California sound, Dawes breathes it.
Commercial-placement idea: “Take Me Out of the City” would be good for a VW ad where a bunch of people are cruising at night through the desert looking for a party, but then decide to keep driving and listening to music.