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Britt Daniel gazed out over what was probably the smallest festival crowd to which Spoon has played in recent memory and marveled, “This is a pretty cool deal, right?

“This is my kind of festival — there’s people right there I can almost touch,” he said, then pointing toward the horizon and adding, “Usually you’re, like, back there.”

  • ||| Photos by David Benjamin. Main stage gallery, above; Block Stage and Party Stage galleries below.

Yes, the Moon Block Party arrived Saturday with bigger aspirations and a modest (at best) turnout, the latter despite a lineup that should have had psychedelic-rock fans bursting at their bell bottoms. Newly relocated to the spacious Pomona Fairplex (home to the L.A. County Fair, the Warped Tour, horse racing, etc.), the Moon Block Party offered 19 bands on three stages (for a reasonable $45) and, as it turned out, an easy-to-navigate festival experience.

Fans came dressed as friars, zombies, cheerleaders, zombie cheerleaders and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — if you can imagine the latter as beer-chugging, chain-smoking bros. Along with the rank-and-file, they enjoyed virtually every shade of what can be described as psych, from the Saharan folk of Tinariwen to punk high jinks of Black Lips to the hardcore screeds of Metz to the blissful drone of the Black Angels.

Downsides included occasional sound glitches on the two small stages, the meager carnival food offerings, one major set-time conflict that forced attendees to choose between Tinariwen and Band of Skulls and the unfortunate last-minute cancellation of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (along with the lack of a blast communicating the revised set times, which had some festival-goers confused).

Maybe it was the moonless night.

There were upsides aplenty, though — for one thing, no beer gardens. That’s right, you could carry your 24-ouncer all over the festival grounds. Consider that if you were suffering from festival fatigue or couldn’t find a road map to Pomona. The weather was pretty too, even if some of the hair wasn’t.

That said, here are my Top 8 memorable moments of the Moon Block Party:
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Stream: Spaceships, ‘Good Gradez’

by Kevin Bronson on October 20, 2014

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L.A. agitators Spaceships graduate from lo-fi to a-little-more-fi on their new self-titled EP, coming Nov. 4 via New Professor Music. Oh, the duo of singer-guitarist Jessie Waite and drummer Kevin La Rose still sound like they’re making power-pop with power tools, but that’s the charm, with Waite sounding only moderately interested when she sings, “I want to destroy you / but what good would that do?” in the new single “Good Gradez.” The new EP is the follow-up to the deceptively titled full-length “Cool Breeze Over the Mountains” that came out last year. Turn everything up.

||| Stream: “Good Gradez”

||| Live: Spaceships are doing at Thursday night residency this month at the Melody Lounge in Chinatown.

||| Previously: “Ghost”

Photo by Scarlett Aguilar

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Stream: Sleater-Kinney, ‘Bury Our Friends’

by Kevin Bronson on October 20, 2014

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Sleater-Kinney has reunited, because … well, they could. And should. And because Coachella probably needed a strong show-the-kids-how-it’s-done band for April in the desert. (Pure speculation, of course, based in this tour itinerary.) A lot of the riot has been missing from the grrrls since the trio of Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss went on hiatus after 2005′s “the Woods,” their seventh album. And no amount of side projects and imitators quite filled the void. After some teasing — and as the trio’s entire catalog is being reissued in a boxed set titled “Start Together” — the trio announced today that a new album “No Cities to Love” would be Jan. 20 via Sub Pop. It was recorded mostly at John Vanderslice’s Tiny Telephone studio in San Francisco earlier this year, and in the label’s announcement, Brownstein says: “We sound possessed on these songs, willing it all — the entire weight of the band and what it means to us — back into existence.” This first single “Bury Our Friends,” which features Miranda July, is a good start.

||| Stream: “Bury Out Friends” (feat. Miranda July)

Photo by Brigitte Sire

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Ears Wide Open: Spectacular Spectacular

by Kevin Bronson on October 20, 2014

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The first single from Spectacular Spectacular is a pulsing, dark-disco number with one of those watch-what-you-wish-for choruses: “Show me the monster inside of you,” singer Jessica De Grasse sings forebodingly amid a swirl of pained backing vocals. It’s the first song from an album-in-the-works titled “Blur” from Grasse, Isley Reust and Millie Chan. Originally based in San Francisco, the threesome has planted roots in L.A. and has been working with producer Kristopher Comeaux. Somewhere here, De Grasse advocates drinking “Orange Juice,” but we’re not sure we’ve connected those dots yet. Too busy dancing.

||| Stream: “Orange Juice”

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Here’s how to start your week:

► U.K. rockers Alt-J play a sold-out show at the Greek Theatre behind their new album “This Is All Yours,” with the Acid opening.
► Dutch quartet Taymir, fresh off playing Culture Collide, highlights the lineup at It’s a School Night at Bardot, playing along with Santa Barbara electro-pop outfit FMLYBND, Spookyland and Fractures.
Magic Giant will be joined by Freedom Fry (plus Moxie Raia and Pablo Nouvelle) for the third week  at their residency at the Bootleg HiFi.
Dream Boys continue their residency at the Echo, supported by Cold Showers, Swiftumz and Ablebody.
► At the Silverlake Lounge, it’s resident rockers Aeges, along with Ghost Idols, True Rivals and the Vitals.
► And Planets are back to rock the Satellite, supported by Battle Tapes, Megafauna and Chastity Belt.

Also:
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The Week Ahead: Oct. 20-26

by Anna Acosta on October 20, 2014

Incoming: Alt-J, Pentatonix, Wildcat! Wildcat!, Metronomy, White Denim, Banks, Dry the River, Hanni El Khatib, Olin & the Moon, Hobart W Fink, TV on the Radio, Nas, Eastern Conference Champions, Fever the Ghost, the Acid, Matt Ellis, the Brave Ones, Ceci Bastida, Matisyahu, Jessie Ware, the Melvins, Le Butcherettes, Kimbra, Sloan, Tom Vek, Movement, Colin Hay, Bob Dylan, Erasure, Broken Bells, Charlie XCX, Trampled By Turtles, Placebo, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Mineral, Intocable, Phish, the Four Tops, Paul Anka, Roberto Fonseca, Big Freedia, Monophonics, Street Dogs, Wiz Khalifa, Beach Goth festival, Knotfest, Tinariwen, Tenacious D’s Festival Supreme, Broken Bells, the Afghan Whigs, St. Lucia, KCRW Masquerade, Francisco the Man, Tennis, Leon Russell, Hall & Oates, Vacationer

Above: The Afghan Whigs visit the Fonda Theatre on Saturday night behind their album “Do the Beast,” their first record since 1998. Above, the video for “Matamoros.”

Our staff picks of the week:

@KRBronson recommends: L.A. electro-pop outfit Wildcat! Wildcat! are playing their first big local gig since the release of their debut album “No Moon at All,” and Buzz Bands LA is co-presenting the show Tuesday at the El Rey Theatre. White Hinterland opens, and DJ Bumbaclot spins. Later in the week, you should really claw your way into one of the Bob Dylan shows.

@Seraphina_L recommends: There is no shortage of emerging pop divas headlining L.A. venues this week. Dark pop chanteuse Banks has a two-night stint at the Wiltern in support of her debut “Goddess.” Kimbra, who gained popularity from her guest appearance on Gotye’s 2012 smash hit “Somebody That I Used to Know” but has since then reinvented herself with funk-filtered pop on her new album “The Golden Echo,” plays the Roxy on Thursday. Lastly, Jessie Ware performs at the classy Tower Theatre for a select audience who won tickets from the lottery through her website. The U.K. singer’s sophomore effort “Tough Love” is out this week.

After the jump, the week ahead:
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L.A. Buzz Bands Show, tonight at 9 on KCSN

by Kevin Bronson on October 19, 2014

KCSN2014NEW-500We have kicked off our Fall Membership Drive on KCSN, and while I won’t be doing any of those long on-air spiels during tonight’s L.A. Buzz Bands Show, I will encourage you here to become a contributing member and help your local all-music, listener-supported station. There are some cool incentives that you can find out about here. Also included is an auction for prime tickets to the two KCSN Benefit Concerts at Valley Performing Arts Center — Dec. 5 with Sarah McLachlan and Laura Marling and Dec. 12 with Ryan Adams, Conor Oberst and David Gray. So while you won’t get any of my live sermonizing tonight, you will get a healthy dose of new local music, including fresh songs from Hanni El Khatib, Cold War Kids, the Bots, Mariachi El Bronx and more. And my “Flashback Track” will rewind to 2007 to hear from a dearly departed L.A. quartet. Tune in at 9 p.m. on 88.5 FM. Below, subject to last-minute changes, are the beginnings of tonight’s playlist:
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If you’ve followed the trials and tribulations of L.A. sextet Afternoons for the better part of a decade, what befell them at their album-release show Friday night at El Cid absolutely, positively certified the band as star-crossed.

Midway through Afternoons’ set celebrating the long-awaited release of “Say Yes,” drummer Brent Turner’s kick pedal busted beyond repair. (“And I’ve only been using it 20 years,” he deadpanned later.) There was nary a replacement in the house. So a musician who was in the crowd, Dan Wistrom, clambered onstage and proceeded to sit in front of the bass drum and manually pound it, getting cues from Turner’s tapping foot. And later, another ace drummer who was in the house, Denny Weston Jr., joined in on a floor tom to add the necessary oomph for the title track …

… Which, by the way, almost didn’t happen because keyboardist Aaron Burrows’ set-up was cutting in and out.

Somewhere on a big soundstage in the sky, the gods of music had to be cackling:
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Culture Collide got loud on Friday evening, and if Echo Park didn’t know it yet, the World Stage set up in Taix’s parking lot made sure of it, with the sounds of the Young Wild, Mercy Beat, Beat Connection and Cloud Nothings reverberating into the neighborhood. Lot 1 Cafe opened its doors to artists from the U.K., Sweden, Israel and Singapore and the United Methodist Church had a full room for the first time with the Cardigans’ Nina Persson headlining the night. Taix itself was also still in full swing with garage-rockers thrashing inside and electronic artists rattling the lounge’s glassware.

Our highlights from Culture Collide, Day 2:
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Recap and photos by Michelle Shiers

The New Pornographers certainly know how to master longevity — in terms of career and set length. Behind their sixth album “Brill Bruisers,” the Canadian band performed 27 songs including two encores Friday night at The Wiltern. Though a few of the members now have their own solo ventures, they come together wonderfully, boasting flawless harmonies and hooks.

Though the Wiltern was not sold out, the venue felt packed in with diehard fans who cheered vehemently at the start of each song. New tracks blended in with old ones
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