In the strange wake of music's digital rebirth, vinyl has experienced a modest boom in popularity, seen by many as a replacement for the awkward middleman that is the compact disc. INCHES reviews the output of L.A.'s healthy vinyl community (artists and labels, indie or other), believing that good music deserves much more than a handful of ones and zeros.

Last time, we took a spin through favorites by Avi Buffalo, Koushik, Psychic Powers and Nerve City. This time: 38 inches of gritty rockwise glory. Email INCHES here.

Artist: Best Coast

Title: “When I'm With You” b/w “This Is Real”

Label: Black Iris (Echo Park)

Format: 7-inch, 596 pressed

There was a moment when Bethany Cosentino turned her back on what we all know as the best coast. After splitting from Eagle Rock-based drone crew Pocahaunted, she split town entirely for a new life in New York City. Lucky for us, she found he way back, because in April, she with the following news via MySpace:

so i am back in california, and i thought what could be more fitting than to record a bunch of songs about summer and the sun and the ocean and being a lazy creep? so this is what i'm doing. […] my bff bobb bruno has been crazy at work adding drums, beach boys bass lines, and other amazing things. […] i'm really fucking excited about this and i hope that every11111 likes it and can make out to it on a beach blanket this summer.

And with good reason, the buzz has been growing ever since. This 7-inch, recorded by Fool's Gold/Foreign Born member Lewis Pesacov, serves up two sun-soaked, reverb-loving slices of SoCal surf pop. “When I'm With You” is sugar-sweet, even as it gives a knowing wink to the grungier northern end of the coastline, while “This Is Real” is an easy love story strung over a tune that's easy to love — swooning vocals, clean guitar and mussed-up rhythm section. Of course, a 45 is too short to soundtrack any make-out session worth its weight in saliva, but a full-length can't be too far off.

Download: Best Coast – “When I'm With You” [MP3]

Stream: both songs.

Purchase at your local independent record vendor. INCHES recommends Origami or Vacation.

Credit: Heather Bleemers

Credit: Heather Bleemers

Artist: Lustmord

Title: Transmuted

Label: Hydra Head (Los Feliz)

Format: 12-inch EP, 500 pressed

Pitch black dub from the devil's jukebox, Lustmord's Transmuted offers two riddim version redo's of dooming tunes from the legendary “dark ambient” pioneer's latest album, Other. It's a thing that has to be heard to be believed, because, well, it actually works. On the A-Side, Jesu/Godflesh main brain Justin K. Broadrick puts drum and bass to “Dub Awakening,” spooky graveside acoustics eventually giving way to a bounce that's undeniably of the Jamaican isle — albeit the part where they still practice Obeah. On the flip, “Er Dub Us,” remixed by Lustmord, employs an electronic stutter beat and deep synthesized low end swells to create something that would sound perfectly at home coming off of D-Styles' turntable at The Airliner on a Wednesday night. Terrifying, yes, but awesome as well.

Stream: the original songs, and the rest of Other.

Purchase at your local independent record vendor (INCHES recommends Origami or Vacation), or right now via the Hydra Head web store.


Credit: Heather Bleemers

Credit: Heather Bleemers

Artist: Bipolar Bear / Hiroshima Rocks Around

Title: Split

Label: Kill Shaman (San Gabriel) / NO=FI (Italy)

Format: split 12-inch, 500 pressed

Readers familiar with this column should already be well-acquainted with Bipolar Bear. The local six-piece cuts a wholly listenable swath through the experimental skronk of Liars and the surfy scuzz happening in our own backyard. This handful of songs is no exception, with the epic “Graves” kicking things off, and the ebullient “Crabby Levine” appearing next to old favorite, “Manbase.” The B-Side belongs to the far messier Hiroshima Rocks Around, and Italian trio that whips guitar, drums, sax and shouts into a cyclone of weird. As the Kill Shaman description states, “Both bands eat glass and will destroy your record player.” And we heartily agree.

Download: Bipolar Bear – “Graves” [MP3]

Purchase at your local independent record vendor (INCHES recommends Origami or Vacation), or right now via the web store.

Credit: Heather Bleemers

Credit: Heather Bleemers

Artist: Omar Rodriguez Lopez Group

Title: Los Sueños De Un Higado

Label: Rodriguez Lopez Productions (Echo Park)

Format: 12-inch EP, 1000 pressed

The Mars Volta's Omar Rodriguez Lopez releases records at a rate nearly as frenetic as his notorious guitar-shredding. It can be tough for all but the most dedicated progists to keep up, but Los Sueños De Un Higado is a worthwhile excursion for the intrepid among us structure-loving plebs. Culled from the ORL Group's BBC sessions at Maida Vale this past March, Sueños showcases the combined instrumental might of these six players, and adds another chapter to the growing songbook that places the main brain's leading lady on lead vocals. Ximena Sariñana, a pop star in her native Mexico, her adds a sultry, earthy weight to the jazz runs, psych explosions and bluesy detours. The vinyl-only release also offers a preview of two songs from Lopez's forthcoming Solar Gambling, an album that will reportedly split writing duties between the couple at the Group's core.

Download: Omar Rodriguez Lopez Group – “Locomocion Capilar” [MP3]

Stream: the entire release.

Available only through the Rodriguez Lopez Productions web store.


Vacation Vinyl's Top Ten Best-Sellers: December 5 – 18

01. Best Coast – “When I'm With You” 7-inch (Black Iris)*

02. Boris – Japanese Heavy Rock Hits Vol.3 7-inch (Southern Lord)

03. Lightning Bolt – Earthly Delights (Load)

04. Pearl Harbor – Something About The Chaparrals EP (Mexican Summer)

05. Converge – (Deathwish)

06. Girls – Album (Matador)

07. Doomriders – Darkness Come Alive (Deathwish)

08. Holy Grail – Improper Burial 7-inch (Prosthetic)

09. Washed Out – Life Of Leisure (Mexican Summer)

10. Saint Vitus – Heavier Than Thou (SST)

[*previously currently featured in INCHES]

Vacation Vinyl is located at 4679 Hollywood Blvd., 90027 (323.666.2111).

LA Weekly