By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
By Dennis Romero
BEST PURVEYOR OF PSYCHEDELIC FREAKINESS
This has been a banner year for trippy beat-laden psychedelic folk breakdowns in L.A., and you can thank Manimal Vinyl for a lot of it. There are a dozen odd labels that could arguably lay claim to being this city’s best imprint, including In the Red, Nacional, PPM, Stones Throw, Dangerbird, IAMSOUND, Alpha Pup and Gnomonsong, to say nothing of the Epitaph/Anti-/Hellcat empire or the homegrown Warner Bros. and Capitol outfits. But this year Manimal Vinyl tapped into some freakiness that deserves to be celebrated. What, exactly? It’s hard to explain what Manimal Vinyl issues but it’s uniquely Southern Californian, filled with sunswept psychedelia, a little bit of mystical bullshit and a whole lot of rhythm. At the top of its list is Rainbow Arabia, whose transcendent Kabukimono EP trades in rhythmic psychedelia that bumps and trips without overdoing it. Hecuba’s new Paradise full length draws from synth pop and weirdo analog experiments to create something new and beautiful. Alexandra Hope’s underappreciated Invisible Sunday is sparse, commmanding and heavy on the guitars. Those three would be enough, but Manimal’s recent signings, including Warpaint, VoicesVoices and We Are the World, suggest that the label’s agenda stretches way ahead toward the horizon — wherever that may be. manimalvinyl.com.
BEST RECORDING STUDIO IN A HOTEL
At the Studio at the Sunset Marquis Hotel & Villas, in West Hollywood, catering to an artist’s needs is easy: You just order room service. The recording studio, run by Jed Lieber, is housed in an isolated corner of the lavish hotel’s parking garage. With a smoking lounge–meets-bordello interior, the fully-equipped, intimate space offers an alternative to traditional recording studios. Back in the day, the Sunset Marquis was home to a Rolling Stone or two, but today musical megastars (or mega corporations) like U2, Jeff Beck and Aerosmith use the studio as a refuge from the rigors of touring. In fact, the hotel is creating a new parking garage big enough to accommodate their tour buses. It’s a home away from home, and a secret studio for high-profile rockers. 1200 Alta Loma Road, W. Hlywd. (310) 657-1333, sunsetmarquis.com.
BEST STORE FOR MOM
If GG Allin knew his cuddly mug would one day wind up on a bumper sticker, he might’ve killed himself sooner. Thanks to the Hot Topic–ification of America, every threatening and nonthreatening genre of rock & roll has been turned into pop culture memorabilia, licensed or unlicensed. In Red Zone, however, punk, metal and all their sub-families — from the popular and the anarchic to the Satanic — seem to live and breathe here. (If you need help breathing, they sell gas masks.) And the fact that two of three stores are located in shopping malls (the Burbank shop is surrounded by three AMC theaters, while the Panorama City one is next door to a Wal-Mart) isn’t what’s surprising, but that they have everything on everything, namely the wall-to-wall T-shirts. No less than 15 of the Misfits; an entire wall dedicated to psychobilly; and way, way too many death and black-metal bands, including the usual suspects, like Deicide, Bathory, Lamb of God and the wonderful smell of Napalm Death. There are also bumper stickers, patches, shoes, more clothing, flyers for local punk shows and at least five kinds of pomade; a greaser’s pompadour won’t hold up on its own. Brothers Paul and Mike Haddad opened the first Red Zone in 1992 — only four years after Hot Topic popped up in 1988 — and judging by the guitars signed by the Misfits’ Glenn Danzing and Doyle, Social Distortion’s Mike Ness and all members of the original Guns n’ Roses that hang on the Panorama City store’s wall, they live what they sell. 201 E. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank. (818) 842-1150. Also at 8401 Van Nuys Blvd., Panorama City. (818) 891-1446. And at 620 S. Broadway, dwntwn. (213) 622-8649, redzoneweb.com.
BEST EXPLOSIONS OF COLOR ON A NECK
There’s a timelessness to I. Ronni Kappos’ jewelry. Its perfect home might be the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, where it could fit into almost any collection, from Ancient Egypt and the Bauhaus, to the artists Piet Mondrian, Wassily Kandinsky or El Lissitzky, to contemporary design. And, of course, it belongs in the museum shop — any museum shop. The L.A.–raised Kappos began making jewelry while a student at UC Santa Cruz. Her inspiration originated in midcentury architecture but has of late morphed into a more organic response to the vintage German glass beads she has been fortunate to find: flat, elegantly edged and rich in color. She sees her new designs as “flattened explosions of color.” In this Twilight world, where women’s necks seem so vulnerable — and desirable — a Kappos necklace seems like both a talisman and a beacon. Take your pick. Available at Uncle Jer’s, 4459 W. Sunset Blvd., L.A. (323) 662-6710); Show, 1722 N. Vermont Ave., L.A. (323)644.1960; Plastica, 8405 W. Third St., L.A. (323) 655-1051; and Weego Home, 2939 Main St., Santa Monica. (310) 392-8460. irkjewelry.com for details.