BEST NEW PLACE FOR LIVE MUSIC
Sunn O))), FYF Fest Breakfast, Eagle Rock Music Festival, HEALTH, L.A. Record Christmas Party: The best new place to see live music this year was the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts, which offers more proof that things keep moving farther east. Blank Blue member Brian Ako Martinez does most of the booking, and has a close relationship with Sean Carlson, Phil Hoelting and the L.A. Record boys Chris and Charlie. Combined, the team bring in a regular rotation of buzz-worthy acts that haven’t quite broken. The space itself is large and the acoustics are wonderful, swirling and spilling around the giant mass of people that the space can hold. With nice elevation, the center stayed cool for most of the summer, even on the hottest nights when band and audience seemed to blur together and radiate heat. The vibe is warm, shows start on time, and there isn’t a bar — or really much of anything in terms of milling about except for the really lovely smoking patio and the long-winding, cascading steps that open onto a view of the speeding cars of Colorado Boulevard. People come for the music, which, in a city that hides a not-so-secret social-climber side, is a welcome relief. Parking is easy, and with close access to local coffee shops and tasty veggie/vegan eateries, it’s the perfect place to see a good show and feel like you stayed close to home. 2225 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock. (323) 226-1617, centerartseaglerock.org.
BEST DEAL ON MOVIE SEATS
There seem to be two scents associated with discount theaters — Lysol and vomit. The Academy Theater on Colorado Boulevard has neither, although years ago, in its Academy 6 incarnation, its lobby did betray disinfectant accents. The Academy has always been a treat for the thrifty cineaste, especially now, in these hard times, when dreamers and film geeks are finding themselves without work. Two bucks gets you into a matinee screening of one of eight first-run movies (well, maybe first-run-plus a few weeks). My wife and I had been dying to see Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell but had somehow missed it in its initial run. Yet here it awaited us one afternoon — and had we chosen an evening screening, admission would’ve only been $3 per ticket. The Academy may not have that fresh-popcorn smell of the arty Laemmle Playhouse 7 up the street, and the staff may sometimes be a little too slow to crank up the air conditioning in the summer, but the place offers a thoughtfully mixed repertoire of blockbuster and art fare. 1003 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. (626) 229-9400.
BEST AFTERNOON DJ
Michael Stock’s years hunched over boxes of records, trolling for vinyl treasure, certainly has paid off. Every Thursday afternoon Angelenos benefit from the staggering breadth of his musical archive. Stock is half of Part Time Punks (with Benjamin White), the duo who put on the eponymous Tuesday night series at the Echo, which means he’s keyed into happenings on the local scene. He’s been DJing for the past two years in clubs all over the city, including Spaceland, Silverlake Lounge, Tangier and the Vanguard, and has even taught a course at UCI on punk rock and the cinema. Can he be long-winded and verbose? Occasionally. Is he informative? You bet. There’s much to be transmitted from Stock’s encyclopedic brain, so give him a break. Tune in Thursdays and catch surf punk, scratchy R&B records, new pop, indie, experimental electronica, old Goth hits from the crypt, and international post-punk colliding on air. This professor, booker, promoter, DJ, human database of musical knowledge and radio personality has something to offer everybody. P.S. What did you do today, Jim Ladd? Thurs. 2-6 p.m. on KXLU 88.9 FM.
BEST ART GALLERY FOR MUSIC
Straddling Echo Park’s south side and downtown, L’Keg sits tucked between a rotisserie-chicken restaurant and a vinyl–sign-making shop, downplaying its claustrophobic, punk-rock interior with a quiet exterior in the daytime but lighting up when night falls — long after the strip mall’s other tenants have left for the day. L’Keg — named after a line in the film Velvet Goldmine (L.K.E.G. is an abbreviation of “Lipstick Kissed Elbow Glove”), is, at its heart, a gallery/project space launched by members of the local band Blue Jungle. Exhibitions consist of crafty arts, pop illustrations, photography and heavy-on-the-graphic-design works on paper. But its founders — Cory Myrick, Leticia Llesmin, Nosebleed and Shannon Paley — know that rocking, too, is an art, so they’ve opened the space to homegrown bands of every persuasion, including Torches in Trees, Bi-polar Bear, Man’s Assassination Man, Foot Village, Puppy Dog and the folksy Leslie and the Badgers, to name a few. In addition to the venue that L’Keg offers to spotlight great local bands, the space is also a distributor of records and publications for local artsy/musical folk, and hosts occasional outlying events, like Sunday hangover poetry parties and screenings of teenage snuff films. 311 Glendale Blvd., Echo Park. myspace.com/lkeggallery.