Kan Wakan’s debut “Moving On,” released a year ago this month, remains an album of massive ambitions and epic scope. No surprise, then, that the L.A. collective helmed by composer/multi-instrumentalist Gueorgui Linev and guitarist-producer Peter Potyondy went all-out in the remix department as well. “Moving On Remixed” — being offered for free download via NoiseTrade — is a 24-track re-imagining of the album featuring remixes by Robin Hannibal, Wet, Mark de Clive-Lowe, Ana-Tole, Zikomo, Casual Psychotic, Ben Baptie and Joomanji, among others. (It’s actually 23 remixes and a smoldering, unreleased demo “Lotusland.”) What hits home with you depends on your tastes in electronic shape-shifting, but for us the highlights are the Wet remix of “Like I Need You,” Zikomo’s restrained take on “Forever Found,” Hannibal’s lush spin on the title track and Joomanji’s oozing “Sawdust.” Of course, the source material is so good, you approach any fiddling with the likes of “Midnight Moon” with trepidation. By and large, though, there are far more hits than misses here.
Los Angeles is blessed to be the home base of a handful of artists who make country music that doesn’t sound like it came out of a food processor, and with the April 10 release of “Greyhound Blues,” Geronimo Getty ascends to the top of that heap. The 10-song tour de force marks the crest in a long road for singer-songwriter Aaron Kyle, who once fronted the underappreciated swamp-blues outfit Le Switch before going full-on country under his new moniker’s “Darkness Hides” EP in 2012. “I learned a lot about my singing/songwriting voice while making the ‘Darkness Hides’ EP,” Kyle explains. “Country music has always played a role in my songwriting. I teetered around it in Le Switch, but the moment I fully embraced it, it just felt right.” And so it does on “Greyhound Blues,” with Kyle’s rich, man-in-black baritone framed by tasty licks from bandmates Chris Harrison, Seb Bailey and Brian Soika. Produced by Jeff Halbert (Nick Cave, St. Vincent, Rickie Lee Jones), the album also features guest turns from local luminaries Brian Whelan (the former Dwight Yoakam side man who has his own solo opus on the way), Jonathan Price, John Graney and Valerie McCann. Kyle describes the new work as “a loose concept album telling the story of a man easily given to violence,” and his narratives are enriched by an ambitious series of visuals — there’s a video for each song, directed by a host of filmmakers. Besides Bryan Kramer and Craig Bauer’s “Devil’s Theft” (above, which stars Alyssa Beth Mata and Nicholas Polley), directors Ryan Jackson-Healy, Ruben and Allison Anders, Diane Zilliox and Jay Bennett, David Phillips, Dominic Ciccodicola, Dave Merson-Hess, Tom Provost, Ashley Kramer and Travis Flornoy contribute. (Note: At Geronimo Getty’s album-release show April 10 (info below), the band will perform the album in sync with all 10 videos.) Meanwhile, get these guys on tour with Sturgill Simpson; we’ll bust out our boots.
“Not Far to Go” holds a special place in Buzz Bands LA’s heart — in early 2012, fresh out of recording sessions at Raymond Richards’ Red Rockets Glare studio, Jacob Dillon Summers sent us the song, originally titled “How Far to Run” as a way of introducing his new project Lauralaura. The band is now called Avid Dancer and the song is now titled “Not Far to Go,” but it hasn’t diminished the appeal of Summers’ four-minute slice of psych-pop heaven, which Fader likened to Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl” and which Summers says he wrote (“tired of the snow”) in anticipation of his original move to Los Angeles. With its shimmering guitars and loping bass line, it’s a road-tripper to be sure, one of the highlights on Avid Dancer’s debut “1st Bath” (out April 14 via Grand Jury). In other Avid Dancer exploits, the band recently released two cover songs, including “San Diego Zoo,” erroneously credited to Magnetic Fields. It’s actually a song by the Stephin Merritt side project The 6ths. Featuring Merritt collaborations with the likes of Mary Timony, Dean Wareham, Mitch Easter, Lou Barlow, Sally Timms, Bob Mould, Neil Hannon and a host of other luminaries, The 6ths released two brilliant albums in the 1990s, and “San Diego Zoo” appeared on “Wasps’ Nests,” which just marked its 20th anniversary. Check out the lovably twee original, featuring singer Barbara Manning. Meanwhile, Avid Dancer also took on the oft-covered Tears for Fears classic “Mad World,” and while we are of the opinion that nobody should have been allowed to cover this song after the Gary Jules/Michael Andrews version, it’s fine in spirit.
After releasing the songs “The Spirit of St. Louis” and “Truth and Diamonds” early in 2015, Los Angeles-via-Brooklyn artist Alge has just dropped a new single called “Palms of Our Hands.” It features his friend and frequent collaborator, the Brooklyn-based R&B artist DAJ, and is his most anthemic and dynamic track yet. The iced-out pop motif in Alge’s music continues evolving as this track begins by sliding into darkness but immediately soars into new light with a hypnotic and tinny cascade of production launching it forward, bolstered with boom-clack drum beats, synth tones both melodic and swirling, and a catchy hook that brings it all together, before grinding to a close. “Palms of Our Hands” is the third single in an ongoing monthly series that will culminate this summer with an EP, as well as Alge’s live debut with shows on each coast, and work on his debut album.
Choir boy-turned-electronic pop auteur Pat Grossi will release his second full-length as Active Child on June 16. It’s titled “Mercy,” and while still embracing themes of love and loss in Grossi’s characteristic naked vulnerability, the album marks a production shift away from the soupy effects that drenched his 2011 debut “You Are All I See.” In the album announcement, Grossi explains: “In the past, affecting my voice with reverb and doubling was exciting, but now it bores me. When you remove those layers there’s an undeniable authenticity. But there’s no deep meaning behind the change. Its speaks for itself.” Indeed, if, as Grossi says, “the real motivation is emotional clarity,” the new song “Never Far Away” nails it, with Grossi’s voice soaring soulfully over tasteful, restrained production.
||| Stream: “Never Far Away” and “1999″
||| Live: Active Child performs at the Cathedral Sanctuary at Immanuel Presbyterian Church on July 10.
Electro-pop artisan Evan Voytas has kept his formidable falsetto in the shadows since he released his “Feel Me” EP in 2012 — he’s worked as a session musician and co-written songs for other acts, including Chris Brown’s “Time For Love.” Today, via Hit City USA, Voytas unveiled the new single “Disappear Into the Stars” (b/w “Lite Conversation”) that features more austere production than his lush EP. There might be a bigger metaphor in “Disappear Into the Stars,” but over elastic synths and effects/samples that suggest some circuits have been crossed, Voytas’ airy voice still appears ready for takeoff. Both songs are available for free download.
Many new bands have embraced traditional blues-rock in recent years, but few have given it a cherubic, gleeful double-high-five like Sweet Bump It, whose self-titled debut is out today. The band, conceived by diminutive singer-guitarist Nicole “Paco” de Leon and bassist Jenn Eyrich, first emerged in 2013 with the rough-hewn “First Slice” EP, then won hearts with last August’s “Dauphine” video. Fresh faces letting loose their old souls? That’s Sweet Bump It, whose ranks have grown to include guitarist Andrew Parker, drummer Jay Doo and (the band’s secret weapons) backup vocalist Lisa Deines, Marlaine Reiner and Francesca Salac. You get the idea in the Jonathan Ho-directed video for the gospel-infused “Energy,” one of two songs the septet placed in the Cinemax series “Banshee” earlier this year. The seven-track album was produced by Tyler Sabbag. Tasteful guitar solos included.
Who cares about the case of the Mondays when you’ve got Ty Segall, the Black Lips, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Dengue Fever, Nick Waterhouse, Tennis, J Mascis and dozens more all playing on a Sunday night? Those who attended the second day of Burgerama didn’t seem to give it a thought. Partying on and getting their burger on, the crowd at the Observatory seemed just as packed as Saturday, if not twice the size.
One major difference between Saturday and Sunday’s lineup was that the majority of the crowd seemed to pack themselves into the Observatory main room. Bone Thugs, the Black Lips and closing act Ty Segall on the main “Rama” stage changed that, but the Observatory was the place to be before 5 p.m. It was time well-spent, with the exception of the set from T Tops, that is if you could even call that performance a set.
The duo, whose members are comprised of the Growlers’ Matt Taylor and Tomorrows Tulips’ Ford Archbold, not only had the worst hypeman in history try to get the crowd to chant “Fire It Up,” but the attempt followed a wet T-shirt contest. (It was hard to believe the venue allowed such lame behavior.) T Tops then showed a 15-minute “Spinal Tap”-like video before the they came out to do a bit about why there was only one mic before performing a mere minute of a song titled … you guessed it: “Fire It Up.” It could have been chuckle-worthy, but it was mostly a waste of time and the one downside to the festival.
But we digress … Here are five highlights from Day 2 of Burgerama Four:
Join Kevin Bronson every Sunday at 9 p.m. Pacific time for the L.A. Buzz Bands Show on KCSN (88.5 FM, streaming at KCSN.org).
The long-running Buzz Bands LA Show — weekly on the Internet since 2006 — streams two hours of local music at 11 a.m. on Fridays on The Independent FM. It's rebroadcast at 7 p.m. Tuesdays.