Wednesday, August 20, 2014

  • Photo by Amanda Lopez
  • Nocando
[Editor's Note: James “Nocando” McCall is a critically acclaimed rapper, co-founder of the Low End Theory and founder of indie rap label Hellfyre Club. Here's his previous piece, about why he no longer battle raps.]

I consider myself a connoisseur of public transportation.

My mother worked for MTA when I was a kid, which kept my young neck draped those in those yearly bus pass lanyards. I took the Red Line on the first day it opened; I was proud that my city had gotten a train. Now, when my family up North talked about BART, I could chime in.

A while back there were plans to make what is now the Purple Line extend to the beach. As far as I can remember, the plan was halted because some Beverly Hills people were worried about underground methane gas pockets that could supposedly explode. But I heard the real reason was because some people didn't want folks not from the area popping up from the underground, like ethnic Ninja Turtles, or Morlocks from the X-Men comics. This is when it hit me that public transportation issue in L.A. was a class issue. Did that mean I, who grew up in South Central, was poor?!

See also: Why Don't White People in L.A. Take the Bus?

As an adult I've traveled all over the country, and to a few different continents. I've taken trains and buses in Oakland, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Boston, the Tube in London, the Yamanote Line in Tokyo, and whatever that pissy-smelling line in Paris is called. I’ve taken buses in Amsterdam, Greyhounds, and random vans with gun-carrying pisas. (The last one a trip to TJ a while ago; never again.) What I learned is that public transportation in other cities isn’t just for the poor. I saw doctors next to school kids, moms next to tech industry brainiacs, next to a sleeping homeless guy.

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Mariachi Plaza station on the Gold Line - TIM ADAMS/FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS
  • Tim Adams/Flickr Creative Commons
  • Mariachi Plaza station on the Gold Line
Recently Thrillist published a Metro rail bar map. This heroic effort identifies a watering hole within a 10-minute walk of each station in the entire Metro rail system, minus a few that, tragically, lack any booze within walking distance.

We’re big fans of public transportation and efficient drinking, so we decided to put Thrillist’s map to the test, starting with a bar crawl that would follow the core of the Gold Line, from Old Town Pasadena all the way to Boyle Heights.

With TAP cards in hand, we set out to hit as many drinkeries as we could before the last train home. At first, we planned to stick to Thrillist’s recommendations – but it quickly became apparent that their map fell short in a few key areas, especially proximity to the Metro.

The whole point of a Metro line bar crawl is to do as little crawling as possible, is it not? So we’ve suggested a few alternatives to Thrillist’s picks along the way. Next stop: Drunkytown!

See also: Public Transpo Is Getting Good in L.A. and I'm Proud

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Bizarre Ride

What to Expect at FYF

Comments (1)


Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 3:45 AM
  • Photo courtesy of the artist
  • Grimes
[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.]

In the 11 summers since it sparked its first mosh pit, FYF has morphed from a free and feral punk festival into a beloved August ritual within the L.A. music archipelago. Its 2014 lineup might be the strongest yet.

Headliners The Strokes and Phoenix are signed to major labels, but most of the undercard are independent artists whose cults have been carved mostly from Soundcloud, Hype Machine and YouTube streams.

FYF’s growth is testament to tasteful curation, relentless hustle and the ever-dwindling gap between “mainstream” and “underground.”

The disintegrating binary might be best expressed by one of Saturday’s biggest acts, synth-pop shape-shifter Grimes, who records for celebrated indie 4AD but has management via Jay Z’s Roc Nation.

Fittingly, the FYF bill spans pop, techno, indie rock, hip-hop, house, psychedelic drone, beat music, mariachi, fusion jazz punk, hardcore and the band that wrote the song “Lump.”

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


R.I.P. Drew Bernstein, Freak Fashion Pioneer

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Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 2:23 PM
  • Courtesy of Lip Service
  • Drew Bernstein
Drew Bernstein, the creator of popular rock and roll clothing lines Lip Service and Kill City, was found dead yesterday of an apparent suicide by gunshot.

His body was discovered on a hiking trail in the Hollywood Hills off of Mulholland Drive. He was 51. 

The L.A. native came up on the local skateboarder scene, hanging with people like Tony Alva and another recently departed local icon, Jay Adams.

Bernstein was also in several punk bands. Though his music career was short, he was constantly on the scene, and appeared in Penelope Spheeris' punk film, Suburbia.

But it was the fashion he created, for “freaks” and “weirdos,” in his words, that left the greatest mark. 

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  • Timothy Norris
  • John Legend
John Legend
Greek Theatre
August 18, 2014

John Legend looked me straight in the eyes and told me he loved me last night, you guys.

Well, maybe he didn't mean me, personally, but it sure felt that way. On stage at the Greek Theatre, the R&B crooner seduced an entire audience of date nights and ladies' nights. From the very start of the show — string quintet, sudden spotlight on Legend in a silver suit, "Made to Love" — it was hard to avoid the communal fantasy in the air: each of us, alone with Legend, gazing, caressing, brushing a cheek with the back of a hand, living out that fast-forwarded love story at the beginning of the movie Up.

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  • Photo courtesy of Manimal Records
  • Marina Paiz, aka Trends
What happens when you give a high schooler a Le Butcherettes album, a guitar, music production software Logic Express, a cheap snowball mic, and a $20 Peavey amp? 

In the case of 18-year-old Duarte artist Marina Paiz, you get Queer Punk Trash. Duh.

At least, that's how Paiz describes Trends, her DIY bedroom recording project. More specifically, she refers to her self-created genre as "experimental shitcore/ space punk."

We had to know more. 

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The Chainsmokers Are Blowing the Eff Up

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Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 3:48 AM
Alex Pall (left) and Drew Taggart (right) - COURTESY OF 4AM
  • Courtesy of 4am
  • Alex Pall (left) and Drew Taggart (right)
Two years ago DJ Alex Pall and producer Drew Taggart were pretty much unknown.

Yet when we talked to them earlier this month, the duo had just lunched with Tïesto in Las Vegas. 

Pall and Taggart are better known as NYC-based EDM up-and-comers The Chainsmokers. They were one of our favorite acts at Hard Summer this year, and they're also the guys behind the hit song “#selfie," which hit #1 on Billboard's Hot Dance/Electronic Songs and has over 10 million Soundcloud plays. (You can hear it below.) 

"#Selfie" is a joking ode to vapid club girls, comprised of a catchy beat over a Valley girl's drunk monologue. The song blew up because, well, everyone knows this type.

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Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her — confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.

Hello Fan!
My band just embarked on our first three month tour, after being together only seven months. I know it sounds silly, but we must have angels because we've had a fair amount of success so far, and a lot of great press. Call it post-tour blues, but we just don't know what to do next. We have a lot of genuine fans who give us the "you will make it" speech, but I know how slim the chances are.

Our manager also happens to be our producer so we can record at any time. My questions: Do we record an album and distribute to stores? I'm the guitar player and composer, so do I get with the singer and write more? Do we need to work on our marketing or even try to get in touch with record labels? What about festivals? We just need some guidance because, as you can tell, I don't even know if I'm asking the right questions!

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday, August 18, 2014


Berserktown Fest Killed It

Comments (1)


Mon, Aug 18, 2014 at 9:06 AM
  • Photo by Samuel Dorian Perez
  • Dirty Work

Berserktown Fest
Los Globos

The first day of Berserktown on Friday was Babylon for underground music freaks. The fledgling festival's venue Los Globos felt like a place where no security guards or gentrifiers could extinguish the fire created by hardcore and noise artists from all over the country.

L.A. may have shut down the East 7th and the Church on York spaces earlier this year, but Berserktown was a giant middle finger to the establishment — but one that was completely legal. There's already talk of part two. But for now, we're still recovering from the first day. Here are some notes on our favorite sets:

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  • Michael Wojtas
  • Woods
Woodsist Festival
Woods, Cass McCombs, Fresh & Onlys, Foxygen, Peaking Lights and others
Pioneertown, CA
August 16, 2014

For the second straight year, New York psych-folk label Woodsist decamped to the deserts of Southern California for a festival featuring their current roster, plus alumni and friends.

The lineup itself was sequenced almost like a lost Laurel Canyon record from the ‘70s—the first half hushed and smoky, the second plugged-in, freakier, more jam-oriented.

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