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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Lighting in a Bottle 2014 - PHOTO BY DANIEL ZETTERSTROM
  • Photo by Daniel Zetterstrom
  • Lighting in a Bottle 2014
Lightning in a Bottle, the Burning Man-esque alternative to more mainstream EDM festivals like EDC and Hard, has announced the dates and location for its 2015 incarnation.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Infrasonic Sound head mastering engineer Pete Lyman in front of his workstation. - PHOTO: THEIS DUELUND
  • Photo: Theis Duelund
  • Infrasonic Sound head mastering engineer Pete Lyman in front of his workstation.
When the vinyl resurgence hit the mainstream a few years back, major record labels were scrambling to meet the demand from new audiences craving music in a physical format. The only problem was that, while the music industry had engineered plenty of innovative new technology, the production of older formats such as vinyl remained largely unchanged.

Making a record still requires a lathe (a workbench-like apparatus that cuts the lacquer master plates) and a vinyl press, two devices as old as the format itself. In other words, in order to produce a record in the first decades of the 21st century, you need ancient equipment and the increasingly lost knowledge of how to operate it.

That’s where Infrasonic Sound comes in. The independent L.A. operation has been cutting records since before it was popular (again). And with vinyl sales up another 49% this year alone, business is booming.

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Charles Wright - COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
  • Courtesy of the artist
  • Charles Wright
[Editor's note: Weekly scribe Jeff Weiss's column, "Bizarre Ride," appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday. Follow him on twitter and also check out his archives.]

Before becoming a global anthem, the NBA’s theme, and the sampled loop of one of N.W.A.’s biggest hits, no one believed in “Express Yourself.”

In hindsight, it seems baffling that anyone could be unswayed by the delirious soul supplied by the horns of the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band or the inspirational shouts of its leader, Charles Wright. But that’s exactly what happened when Wright shopped his now iconic standard in the spring of 1970.

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SPV
  • SPV
Even in the digital music age, eye-striking cover art is still incredibly valued in the heavy metal genre. But the line between ridiculously awesome and awesomely ridiculous often gets walked very precariously. We present to you this year's metal album covers that crossed that line.

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Many people think pot should be legal but don't want to smoke it themselves. - FLICKR/TRAWIN
  • Flickr/trawin
  • Many people think pot should be legal but don't want to smoke it themselves.
With the tide of public opinion rapidly turning against the dangers of reefer madness, you’d be hard-pressed to find an Angeleno who considers marijuana to be the deadly gateway drug portrayed in D.A.R.E. class and alarmist after-school specials. And yet there are many people in our fair city who, while they still support the legalization of recreational cannabis, have struggled with addiction to weed.

Last week, Toke caught up with one such person, a 30-year-old creative type we’ll call Jonathan, who began attending Marijuana Anonymous meetings six months ago and hasn’t gotten high since.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ty Segall - PHOTO BY DENEE PETRACEK
  • Photo by Denee Petracek
  • Ty Segall
Most publications' year-end best-of lists are the product of group-think, carefully tallied from the lists of individual writers and editors in an effort to achieve something resembling consensus. While there's nothing wrong with that approach, we decided to make this list a little more personal — and therefore, perhaps, a little less predictable.

Instead of asking for lists, we asked L.A. Weekly music writers to pick just one album by an L.A.-based band or artist from 2014 that really stood out. Their absolute, bar-none, hands-down favorite of the year.

In the end, only 10 albums got mentioned. Several will probably surprise you, but shouldn't that be the point of these lists? These were, for us, the best albums of 2014. What were yours?

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Support Local Reggae at the Puente Hills Mall. - PHOTO BY DAVID GARCIA
  • Photo by David Garcia
  • Support Local Reggae at the Puente Hills Mall.
Very rarely does someone go to the mall expecting to hear live reggae music. However, Vince Peña of Cali Vibes Clothing hopes to change that for anyone who comes shopping at the Puente Hills Mall.

Located in the City of Industry, Peña opened Support Local Reggae back in mid-November as both an outlet for his Cali Vibes Clothing brand and a place for reggae-influenced musicians from all over Southern California to showcase their talents. The location features live, in-store, acoustic sets every weekend and is currently booked through December.

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You better watch out... - DEATH ROW RECORDS
  • Death Row Records
  • You better watch out...
If you grew up an outspoken hip-hop fan around the holidays, chances are some well-meaning Secret Santa stuffed your stocking with a little holiday compilation called Christmas on Death Row. Yes, this album exists.

Christmas on Death Row is an album that’s puzzled used CD store clerks since its release in 1996. It’s still baffling that the label that gave us The Chronic, Doggystyle and nationwide gangsta rap hysteria devoted its resources to a full-length album of Yuletide tunes. 

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In a few years, will we all start driving to reservations to pick up budget weed in bulk? - FLICKR/WOLFGANG STAUDT
  • Flickr/Wolfgang Staudt
  • In a few years, will we all start driving to reservations to pick up budget weed in bulk?
Last Thursday, the Department of Justice released a three-page memo announcing that the federal government will not prosecute Native Americans growing and selling marijuana on tribal lands, even in states where the drug is illegal. So will dispensaries become the new casinos?

Probably not. Many tribal leaders, including Executive Director of the Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission Ron Andrade, found the announcement surprising and suspicious.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

No Doubt - PHOTO BY TIMOTHY NORRIS
  • Photo by Timothy Norris
  • No Doubt
Though the 25th anniversary bill of KROQ’s Un-Acoustic Christmas show (seriously, they should change the name already) at the Forum this past weekend seemed extremely diverse when it was announced, the lineups fell into two very distinct camps: the vigorous, guitar-driven stomps of night one (Rise Against, Incubus, Linkin Park and System of a Down, to name a few) and the grand, pop-friendly romps of night two. Both nights featured just a couple of newbies alongside seasoned KROQ bands, but for our money, night two seemed a more digestible, less dated and altogether stronger bill, even without U2 headlining as originally scheduled.

Though KROQ was once an alternative radio innovator, breaking bands from the U.K. with funny haircuts and novel, synth-driven sonic sensibilities, these days they play a slightly more rockin' form of pop music, stuff that usually goes on to be heard on more mainstream stations like KIIS FM. (The funny haircuts are still a thing, though.) 

No Doubt’s closing set punctuated this point. Not only were Gwen Stefani and the boys formidable replacements for U2 — as a local band who first got airplay on KROQ, in many ways they made more sense.

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