STRONG ARM STEADY: Arms and Hammers
[Element 9, Feb. 1]
With a rotating cast of characters including Planet Asia and Xzibit, Strong Arm Steady has been a solidly hardcore, hardworking presence on the West Coast's underground hip-hop scene. That was until their release last year on Stones Throw, the Madlib-produced In Search of Stoney Jackson, knocked any traces of that basement dust off their boots. Teaming up with Cali legends like Too Short and Kurupt, it's no surprise Krondon, Mitchy Slick and Phil da Agony's latest record is a G-funk punch. Still, under Talib Kweli's executive production, the trio maintains its lyrical artistry.
TENNIS: Cape Dory
[Fat Possum Records, available now]
Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore are Tennis, a band that's also an attractive, white, married couple from the East Coast who blog about sailing and named their record after the manufacturer of their boat. You really want to dislike this record — again, it's made by people who own a boat — but alas, you cannot. The record combines the understated, laid-back party vibe of "E Lei Ka Lei Lei" with the sweet aesthetics of the Primitives, fitting right in with the sounds of indie-pop bands like Puro Instinct, La Sera or Dum Dum Girls. There is nothing particularly innovative here, but that doesn't matter — it works perfectly as it is.
HANG GLIDER: Hang Glider EP
[Self-issued, available now]
Very interesting, well-crafted one-man-band production by L.A.'s Mike Puretz, a dreamy concept suite about, yes, hang gliding. There is a limited-edition vinyl run as well as a CD. For fans of Gayngs (one of the best bands of 2010) and the great, lost U.K. '90s neopsych of I Monster and the obscurer Beta Band moments. More people need to hear this.
MEN: Talk About Body
[IAMSOUND, Feb. 1]
A few months ago we devoted our L.A. Weekly Interview and cover story to MEN, the post–Le Tigre project by JD Samson. JD told us about her frustration with the delayed release of the material she and partners Ginger Brooks Takahashi and Michael O'Neill had been touring for more than two years. Well, the wait is over: MEN's full-length concept album about "money and bodies" is finally out and (no surprise if you've seen their show) it's a smart piece of dance-punk that should go right up on your shelf next to Peaches and the Gossip.