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.
Artist: Avi Buffalo
Title: “What's In It For?” / “Jessica”
Label: Sub Pop (Seattle)
Format: 7-inch (+ download), transluscent red marble, 1700 pressed
Avi Buffalo has had a good year to say the least. After rising to the top of the pack in its native Long Beach, the quartet led by Avi Zahner-Isenberg completed a highly touted residency at The Echo, went on tour with Beach House, and inked a deal with Seattle mega-indie Sub Pop — all before Zahner-Isenberg hit the ripe old age of 19. This 7-inch is the band's first official release — ever — and features the inescapable “What's In It For?,” a pretty wonderful slice of free-wheeling folk-pop. Zahner-Isenberg's clever love-obsessed lyrics and gorgeous guitarplay are well-complimented by howling harmonies, acoustic jangle and rolling bass — proof that Avi songs sound just as fresh coming out of the studio as they do the frontman's bedroom. But even if you've heard this one enough to take its eccentricities for granted, the organ-borne “Jessica” is a reminder of the imperfect bliss found in the catchy, scratchy demos that first put Avi Buffalo on our radar.
Download: Avi Buffalo – “What's In It For?” (MP3)
Artist: Psychic Powers
Title: “Wellington / “Foreign Photograph”
Label: Geographic North (Atlanta)
Format: 7-inch, pink, 300 pressed
Even if you don't know Psychic Powers, there's a good chance you're already familiar with one of its constituents. The transpacific project combines the respective gifts of New Zealand's Nik Brinkman (of electrogaze group Over The Atlantic) and L.A.'s own Alejandro Cohen (of Dublab, and ambient popsters Languis). With their powers combined, they make up a scrappier, more depressive New Order only just updated for modern ears. The single “Wellington” is a shining example of great downer pop, with fuzzy guitar swells, percussive blasts and crystalline synth sounds buttressing Brinkman's airy vocals. B-side “Foreign Photographs” is breathier still, less outwardly catchy, but equally rewarding for its gauzy atmosphere.
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Title: Beep Tape
Label: Stones Throw (Mt. Washington)
“It's Koushik. It's a 30-track instrumental album.” The Stones Throw website offers little explanation for the existence of this beat-laden treat (initially offered up as a week-long free download), but some things just speak for themselves, The Beep Tape included. Ontario-based producer/singer Koushik Ghosh is best known for shoegazey, psych-inclined soundscapes, but this 30-minute set (yes, that's one track for every minute) amasses a series of loping grooves that exist somewhere between actual songs and DJ breaks. Sure, you could buy two copies and beat-juggle your way to an album's worth of rap-ready canvasses, but The Beep Tape is good listening too. A fluid mix that quickly cycles through samples, sound effects and moods (creepy, stoney, and bouncy pretty much sum up the latter), Koushik's latest mainly serves as a palate cleanser between last year's excellent Out My Window and whatever comes next (which we hope is soon).
Download: Koushik – “Beep 07” (MP3)
Stream: Clips from every song.
Artist: Nerve City
Title: I Fucked Death.
Label: Kill Shaman (San Gabriel)
Format: 10-inch EP, 500 pressed
It's hard to believe that Nerve City comprises no more than Richmond, Virginia, noisenik Jason Boyer. I Fucked Death., aside from having one of the greatest titles we've seen in awhile, is a fine and full-bodied example of dark, Iggy Pop-checking garage pop minimal only in its general lack of studio-granted niceties. Opener “Patience As A Virtue” and closer “Keep Me Around” could easily be mistaken for something created by ATL four-piece Black Lips, but Boyer only enlists occasional assistance on drums, blazing all by his lonesome through punkier surf-scuzz jams like “Colorblind” and slower blues-given numbers like “CCrawLL.” Death will never be the same.
Download: Nerve City – “CCrawLL” (MP3)
Origami Vinyl's Top Ten Best-Sellers: November 28 – December 11
01. The Growlers – Are You In Or Out? (Everloving)
02. Best Coast – “Sun Was High (So Was I)” 7-inch (Black Iris)
03. Crocodiles/Graffiti Island/Dum Dum Girls/Pens split 7-inch (Art Fag)
04. The Entrance Band – The Entrance Band (Ecstatic Peace!)
05. Local Natives – “Camera Talk” 7-inch (Infectious)
06. various – Mortika: Recordings From a Greek Underworld (Mississippi)
07. Salem – “Frost” 7-inch (Audraglint)
08. The Flaming Lips – Embryonic (Warner)
09. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest (Warp)
[*previously featured in INCHES]
Origami Vinyl is located at 1816 W. Sunset Blvd., 90026 (213.413.3030).