This has been a banner year for trippy beat-laden psychedelic folk breakdowns in L.A., and you can thank Manimal Vinyl for a lot of it. There are a dozen odd labels that could arguably lay claim to being this city's best imprint, including In the Red, Nacional, PPM, Stones Throw, Dangerbird, IAMSOUND, Alpha Pup and Gnomonsong, to say nothing of the Epitaph/Anti-/Hellcat empire or the homegrown Warner Bros. and Capitol outfits. But this year Manimal Vinyl tapped into some freakiness that deserves to be celebrated. What, exactly? It's hard to explain what Manimal Vinyl issues but it's uniquely Southern Californian, filled with sunswept psychedelia, a little bit of mystical bullshit and a whole lot of rhythm. At the top of its list is Rainbow Arabia, whose transcendent Kabukimono EP trades in rhythmic psychedelia that bumps and trips without overdoing it. Hecuba's new Paradise full length draws from synth pop and weirdo analog experiments to create something new and beautiful. Alexandra Hope's underappreciated Invisible Sunday is sparse, commmanding and heavy on the guitars. Those three would be enough, but Manimal's recent signings, including Warpaint, VoicesVoices and We Are the World, suggest that the label's agenda stretches way ahead toward the horizon — wherever that may be.

—Randall Roberts

LA Weekly