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Best Music for Cars Los Angeles 2008 

KXLU

Phil Collins should never have been allowed to happen. I also don't need to hear "Love Come Down" three times a day — or ever, come to think of it. And "Maybe I'm Amazed" is brilliant, but Maybe I'm No Longer Amazed when it plays while I drive the same stretch of road at the same time on the same day of the week.

I don't want to get pulled over for driving with one hand glued to the radio dial, so when I need music in the car (always), I avoid the programmed office music that is most L.A. music radio by keeping the dial on one good station.

It's true that my senses have been fired by Bob Parlocha, the voice of kind authority on CSU Long Beach's KJAZ 88.1 FM — particularly by the Latin jazz he plays. And while the country music on CSU Northridge's KCSN 88.5 last Friday night was real — no overearnest pseudocowboys yodeling on about Iraq and doing the dishes with their wives — I can only choose one favorite, and that's Loyola Marymount University's student-run KXLU 88.9 FM.

I get a hipster headache thinking about terms like alternative, edgy, techno and indie, so let's just say that KXLU is good, commercial-free independent music radio, from pre-pre-pre-Elvis through next week. One example: Junior Francis' Thursday-night reggae show — which turned 10 this year — transports me to the Jamaican-infused West London of my youth. It's the only thing on L.A.'s airwaves that comes close to Roots Rockers with David Rodigan on London's Capital Radio in the '80s.

Recently I invited myself over to Josh Frankfort's show. It was 5 a.m. and the music just kinda pushed me that way. Once there, I discovered that an excitingly large number of the CDs on the station's shelves is by bands I've never heard of.

I won't expose my squareness. You can listen.

"Stacks of vinyl have been coming here since the early '70s," said DJ Sean Batton during KXLU's September fund drive. "We've been keeping alternative and independent music alive since way before the punk revolution."

KXLU is 51 this year. The un-self-conscious DJs have been making me laugh loudly in freeway traffic — something Garrison Keillor will never do.

In the dead of night, when I should be in bed with my cat, Mortensen, KXLU keeps me in my parked car with the seat tilted back after a long drive home, until songs like A Certain Ratio's "Flight" and Goldfrapp's "Slide In" tumble to an end.

—Mel Yiasemide

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