15 L.A. Bands to Watch in 2015

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Tennis System
Courtesy of the band

Over the past few years, Los Angeles has been churning out up-and-coming musical talent at a breakneck pace. Not a month goes by, it seems, without another Haim, Foxygen, YG, Banks or Shlohmo graduating from local clubs to festival mainstages.

So who will be the breakout stars in L.A.'s music class of 2015? We asked our writers to gaze into their crystal balls (or at least their Spotify playlists) and share some bold predictions. When you suddenly find it impossible to get tickets to these bands' gigs, don't say we didn't warn you.

15. Bloody Death Skull

Like a children's party band in a David Lynch film, Bloody Death Skull play sweet, twinkling, '60s-inspired pop with pitch-black lyrics, delivered to psychedelic effect in a haze of toy instruments and reverb. Head Skull Daiana Feuer's guileless vocals and strummed ukulele hold together the whole clattering ensemble, which can sometimes swell to 18 whimsically costumed members in live incarnations. Their only release last year was an absurdist EP based on an issue of Dum Dum Zine, but they promise more musical head-trips in 2015. — Andy Hermann 

14. Cellars

Cellars is a solo project for North Hollywood resident Alle Norton. She started recording synth-y gems — "silly pop songs about boys," as she calls them — a few years ago and spent much of 2014 playing largely in and around downtown. Taking cues from the Bee Gees, Kate Bush and Glass Candy, Norton finds the balance between peppy dance beats and melancholy melodies. In 2015, she'll be working with a new live line-up as she prepares for the February 10 release of her second album. — Liz Ohanesian 

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M. Geddes Gengras
Photo by Caitlin C. Mitchell

13. M. Geddes Gengras

The modular synthesizer has been used and abused for over 50 years now, but the music of M. Geddes Gengras shows there’s still a lot of vibrancy to be culled from circuits, patch cables and knobs. Placing special attention on mood and texture, this East L.A. experimental artist creates vast compositions in which electronics seem to operate with minds of their own — stretching out into aquatic ripples, yawning in moody grey streaks, squirming around like malfunctioning appliances. His 2014 album Ishi makes for a good entry point into this warm and weird environment. — Peter Holslin

12. Avid Dancer

Don’t be fooled by the name Avid Dancer or the title of the last EP, I Want to See You Dance: This is not music made for the Sahara tent at Coachella. The debut four-song set drifted closer to mid-'90s Brit pop (on the title track) and laid-back psych (“Stop Playing With My Heart”), delivered with just the right combo of confidence and vulnerability. The solo project of Jacob Summers, Avid Dancer has yet to announce a debut LP. But if the energetic live shows have been any indicator, the project’s sonic palette is still developing. It just definitely isn’t rave music. — Philip Cosores

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The Koreatown Oddity
Courtesy of New Los Angeles Records

11. The Koreatown Oddity

Dominique Purdy is one of the L.A. underground rap scene's most innovative performers — and not just because, as The Koreatown Oddity, he rhymes from behind a creepy-looking rubber wolf mask. On last year's 200 Tree Rings, he dropped richly detailed, autobiographical verses about everything from driving on shrooms to watching Yo! MTV Raps with cinematic verve. His latest project, 5 Chuckles, a cassette-only collab with Ras G released on limited-edition cassette in a blunt pouch, sold out almost immediately. Whatever he does next is likely to be met with similar fervor. — Andy Hermann

10. The Chew Toys

Part of Northeast L.A.'s ultra-underground "queercore" scene, the married duo of Jay Tag (drums) and Kevin Dickenson (guitar) play like they're drunk at a bar, circa 1980, opening for some forgotten L.A. punks like Tex & the Horseheads. They're also irreverent punk jokers that sing about Quaalude's and dumb sex. Last year's self-titled debut included trashy rock 'n' roll party jams that occasionally made a statement. Now they're recording a new EP, while still playing shows at Permanent Records and Cafe NELA — where they've puked, bled and sweated like an '80s hair-metal band in a cage. — Art Tavana

Terminal AEXPAND
Terminal A
Genevieve Davis Photography

9. Terminal A

Colin Peterson and Lee Busch met through a mutual friend who knew that both were enamored with seminal synth punks The Screamers. As Terminal A, they make music with all the goth-punk energy of The Misfits and the minimal synth artiness of Fad Gadget. The duo made strides in 2014, landing gigs at Part Time Punk's Goth Ball and Echo Park Rising, while selling out of their split 7" with O.C.'s Sashcloth & Axes. The guys are in the midst of writing their debut full-length, set to be produced by Paul Roessler (The Screamers) and released by Hollywood label Records Ad Nauseam. — Liz Ohanesian

8. Los Angeles Police Department

Los Angeles Police Department released their debut self-titled LP late in 2014, but don’t worry if you missed it. The project’s mastermind Ryan Pollie already claims to have another effort written and ready to unleash on the world. That’s a lot to take in for fans of his first album, which hits on both melody-driven indie rock from the past decade and home-recorded, DIY sensibilities that never really go out of style. — Philip Cosores

 

7. Kera and the Lesbians

Lead singer Kera Armendariz is the only lesbian in her trio of gypsy-folk "Lesbians," who follow their ringleader like a jangling tribe of depression-era minstrels, blending punk aggression with sun-soaked SoCal blues.Their recent gig at the Bootleg was voted as one of DoLA's "Best Shows of 2014," which is no surprise if you've seen Armendariz release her demons during a live show, hips gyrating like Elvis and vocals stretching to the point of tears. — Art Tavana

6. Jack Name

John Webster Adams is the touring guitarist for psych-rocker White Fence. As Jack Name, he transforms into a shadowy composer who shuns the spotlight. Light Show, Name's synthesized rock opera, is simply too terrifying for mass appeal. It sounds like a Wonka acid-trip boat ride of modulated experimentation, warped garage rock, and child-like symphonies from space. He's still unknown to many, but to a few, his dystopian "anti-identity" has made him L.A.'s most enigmatic rising star. He's now on tour with like-minded freak, Ariel Pink. — Art Tavana

5. Vexare

Though still in his teens, Palmer Hogen is already a veteran EDM producer, with a debut album (The Silent Majority) available on iTunes and an impressively eclectic array of sounds, from electro to ambient to dubstep, on his SoundCloud. A classically trained pianist, Hogen imbues even his most hard-hitting tracks with a melodic richness that is, thankfully, coming back into fashion. His latest track, "Across the Pond," mixes glitch-hop with pretty chill-room vibes in a way that feels totally fresh. — Andy Hermann

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4. Springtime Carnivore

Springtime Carnivore is essentially a solo project for local artist Greta Morgan, whose pedigree made her self-titled debut album noteworthy when it was released in the fall. For one, it was produced by Richard Swift, current touring member of both The Shins and The Black Keys. In addition, it was offered up by local label Autumn Tone, an extension of L.A. institution Aquarium Drunkard. But none of this speaks to the actual sound of Springtime Carnivore, which takes hazy California rock & roll with classic pop and R&B flourishes, and gives them all a contemporary spin. — Philip Cosores

Tennis SystemEXPAND
Tennis System
Courtesy of the band

3. Tennis System

Formed in D.C. in 2009, now based in L.A., the post-punk band Tennis System has developed a reputation for being one of the city's best live acts. The brainchild of lead singer Matty Taylor, Tennis System sounds like a thick-reverb mélange of jangling guitars and '90s shoegaze — with enough early Dinosaur Jr. volatility to melt your speakers. Last year's Technicolour Blind, just their second LP, is meant to be experienced somewhere intimate enough to capture their heart-wrenching lyricism, without losing their blaringly loud appeal. — Art Tavana

2. Ho99o9

Since relocating to L.A., New Jersey transplants Ho99o9 (pronounced "Horror") have already made a name for themselves with their don't-give-a-fuck attitude and harrowing sound, a mix of hardcore punk, moody Odd Futurisms and Clipping.-style noise-rap. We missed Eaddy and The O.G.M.'s Boxing Day set at the Regent, opening for Lil B the Based God, but by all accounts they were nearly as intense as the NSFW video for their scariest track, "Da Blue Nigga From Hell Boy." — Andy Hermann

1. Chela

Chela makes great pop music without sacrificing her identity to pop tactics. Originally from Australia and now living in West Hollywood, the twentysomething artist (real name: Chelsea Wheatley) cuts a playful figure in her crisp, low-budget music videos, with her trademark orange hair and quirky dance moves. Though her throwback ’80s synth-pop jams aren’t exactly revolutionary, her confident melodies and just-vague-enough-to-feel-universal lyrics tap into a wonderful, exploratory space. Sure, she could get more fans by relying on trap breakdowns or twerking backup dancers. But then she wouldn’t be cool, and if Chela is anything, she’s the embodiment of cool. — Peter Holslin


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