LA LA: Weiss' Top 10 Local Albums of 2008
How last month of me....However, since I sleep on the hometown scene all-too-frequently, consider this mild penance.
Dreamy and druggy psychedelia built on a bedrock worship of 60s Cambodian pop, and the ethereal buoyancy of Chom Nmol's voice. Adorned with a filagree of B-movie spy scores, Dick Dale surf strut, and the occasional sax-a-ma-phone belt, Dengue Fever's aesthetic could be described as overly nostalgic--slightly troubling when the period they pine for ran concurrently with the Killing Fields. Still as far as pan-global dream pop goes, this is one of the best things since The Aladdin Soundtrack.
On first listen, Skeleton sounds like a horde of 12-year Chino kids using the garage as a garrote, unleashing clangorous punk riffs after a Bahamian vacation where they'd listened to nothing but Harry Belafonte. It's jarring. Repeated listens limn a deceptive knack for melody and structure lurking beneath Abe Vigoda's post-adolescent angst. Ryan Atwood would not have been been friends with them.
Andrew Gaerig rendered the Mae Shi meticulously in his "Run To Your Grave" singles blurb,
so I'll spare the redundancy. The Mae Shi have been local favorites for
the first time the Mae Shi pared the spastic, Casio velocity of their
stage show with serious songcraft. I'm less concerned about whether or
not the Mae Shi are one of Los Angeles' best bands (they are), and more
what chemical alchemy one needs to ingest to be to like them.
Thank Justin "Aquarium Drunkard"
Gage and his Autumn Tone imprint for releasing the full-length debut
from Silverlake stalwarts, Le Switch. A shambling, boozy and beautiful
38-minute bender, Aaron Kyle and his talented bandmates, eschew au
courant influences for simple, straightforward songcraft. With a
skeleton of Ram-era McCartney, Nilson Schmilsson, and
The Band, Le Switch are Los Angeles' answer to Dr. Dog. Dismissing
their sound as overly familiar misses the point; Le Switch's influences
might be well-worn but their voice is unmistakably unique. Don't miss
their February Monday night residency at Spaceland.
Originally known as Powder and Oils, the eponymous Johnson & Jonson debut was intended to be a pre-Below the Heavens mixtape,
with Mainframe behind the boards and Blu kicking self-described
"swagger raps." Instead, Okayplayer buzz convinced local indie, Tres,
to release it as a full-length. While the C.R.A.C. Knuckles project
showcased Blu's versatility and eclecticism, it felt uneven. Johnson & Jonson, finds
the rapidly rising Blu matching the success of his acclaimed debut and
cementing his positition as the leading light of the LA underground.
The 60s pysch of Modern Guilt is the best thing Beck's done since Mutations. Granted,
it's nowhere near perfect. There's something soulless and robotic to
it-- the work of a prodigiously talented craftsman on auto-pilot,
capable of churning out great song after great song without breaking a
sweat. Yet removed from the context of "another Beck album in 2008,"
it's better than most guitar rock records made last year. Sure it's a
little dull and lacking in joie de vivre, but that never stopped you
from liking Fleet Foxes.
I tend to side with Fluxblog in
the great No Age debate. There's an undeniable brilliance to their
ability to seamlessly fuse punk, shoegaze and ambient; their live show
is vicsceral and snarling, and their tee-shirt game is vicious. Nouns is
a very good record--no doubt. But what's most thrilling about it, is
the potential Dean Spunt and Randay Randall evince. If they treat Nouns as
a starting point and avoid letting their quirks ossify into mannerisms,
No Age are a lock to become the best Los Angeles punk band since The
Minutemen. And thus, help wash away the stain that was/is Social
MP3: No Age-"Teen Creeps"
3. Flying Lotus-Los Angeles (Warp)
Between Nate Patrin's Pitchfork review, Sasha Frere-Jones' New Yorker profile, and Sach O's year-end blurb for this website, Los Angeles received more critical justice than anything released this year. So I'll just selfishly utter that this was the One Word Extinguisher follow-up that I had always hoped Prefuse 73 would make.
MP3: Flying Lotus-Breathe . Something/Stellar STar
Now is the time that I should point out that the Weekly also recently issued its official Top 10 Best LA Albums list. I wrote the blurb for Remind Me In Three Days. It's
probably overly pretentious, but I think it speaks to the greater
context of this album. At this point, saying that I have nothing left
to say would be total meosis.
MP3: The Knux-"Fire"
If you aren't already aware, Otis Jackson Jr. is my favorite beat-maker
of the decade. You probably won't agree if you're into that whole
MP3: Madlib-"Do You Know (Transition)"
Mezzanine Owls-Mezzanine Owls EP, The Parson Redheads-Crowds EP, The Broken West-Now or Heaven, HEALTH-HEALTH/Disco, Gary Louris-Vagabonds
Where The Fuck Was My Promo Award? (For The Albums That I Wanted To Hear But Never Did)
Everest-Ghost Notes, The Henry Clay People-For Cheap Or For Free
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