Ears Wide Open: Babes

by Kevin Bronson on April 23, 2014

And the award for Best Opening Line of a Press Release goes to: “We’re horny. And we’re sad.” So goes the introduction to Los Angeles quintet Babes, who are only half-joking. The band — siblings Sarah, Aaron and Zach Rayne along with Bryan Jeffrey and Jeffrey John — hold that almost all art springs from those two motivational factors. And while you could argue that the former begets the latter, Babes are willing to discuss the matter. They’ve set up the “Babes Hotline” at (470-BABES-77). When a lonely soul dialed the hotline and left a message on Tuesday night, Sarah returned the call, saying, “We just want to talk to people.” And how about the calls Babes has received so far? “Let’s just say, a lot of people are sad,” Sarah explained. “More people are horny.”

Oh, Babes make music too, a lot of it oozing with the beauty and innocence of pop’s past — and perhaps shaded by the self-awareness that going there these days could lead to a substantial amount of soul-crushing.  No matter. The band has been a work in progress for a couple of years, and on May 27 they will release a self-titled EP via Harvest Records. Their first single “Die” could have been worthy of a Hallmark video treatment, but it didn’t get it. Comedian Eric Wareheim of Tim and Eric stars, and if you don’t cry you’ll laugh. If you find yourself in tears, though, maybe somebody will pick up on that hotline.

||| Live: Babes perform Friday at the Bootleg Bar.

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Grand Performances have announced their slate of free summer concerts at California Plaza downtown — including a huge “Stones Throw Picnic” with Peanut Butter Wolf [pictured], Madlib, Dam-Funk and the Lions along with shows by Grammy Award-winning songstress Angélique Kidjo, L.A.-based Malaysian singer Yuna, local folk outfit Miner and Quetzal, the East L.A. legends who celebrate their 20th anniversary in July joined by La Santa Cecilia.

The genre-spanning series kicks off June 20 with Kidjo. The series also includes theater, dance, spoken word and children’s activities. California Plaza is at 350 S. Grand Ave. in downtown.

After the jump, check out the music offerings in the series. For a full rundown on the activities at California Plaza, go here.
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► Punk-rock foursome OFF! headline the Roxy Theatre behind their new album “Wasted Years,” supported by Cerebral Ballzy and NASA Space Universe. That’s OFF!’s new video for “Red White and Black,” above, directed by the Admiral and featuring comedians Dave Foley (“Kids in the Hall”) and Brian Posehn (“Mr. Show”) as fascists who get what they deserve.
► Avant-garde trio Xiu Xiu visits the Church on York behind their latest, “Angel Guts: Red Classroom.” Kid 606 and Tearist support.
► On the heels of their White Iris release “Dumb in the Sun,” Run Things team up with Koga for a show at the Satellite. Kingdoms open.
Tom Brosseau headlines the Bootleg Bar behind his new Sean Watkins-produced album “Grass Punks,” with Max Jury supporting.
► And the Golden God Awards bring a big lineup to Club Nokia — Guns N’ Roses, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, A Day To Remember, Zakk Wylde and the Pretty Reckless. It’ll be live-streamed too.

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Stream: Computer Magic, ‘All I Ever Wanted’

by Seraphina Lotkhamnga on April 22, 2014

Computer Magic

When Computer Magic, aka Danielle “Danz” Johnson, popped up on our local radar back in 2011, we noted how the spacey electro-pop tunes on her “Electric Fences” EP were chock-full of hooks and whimsically still on the rock edge. Johnson is now 11 releases deep (a combination of single and EPs) and her songs still have the same starry-eyed playfulness; she’s just making music under Computer Magic as a Brooklyn artist now. Computer Magic returns to L.A. for only one date, but it’s here that she chooses to celebrate the release of her latest EP, “Extra Stuff,” on vinyl. Synth-heavy but floating in a psych-pop soundscape, songs like the funky “All I Ever Wanted” and the introspective ballad “A Confession” make the 8-track EP a woozy listen with bursts of hope throughout thanks to Johnson’s darling vocals.

||| Stream: “All I Ever Wanted” and “A Confession”

||| Previously: “Found Out,” “Grand Junction”

||| Download: Grab Computer Magic’s cover of Sun Ra’s “Dreaming”, or stream it after the jump.

||| Live: Computer Magic celebrates the release of “Extra Stuff EP”on vinyl Friday at the Lyric Theatre with Roses, D/A/D/ and DJ Dirty Dave.  [click to continue…]




Jack U, the alliance of Skrillex and Diplo, along with Tiesto, Disclosure, A$AP Mob, Axwell, Flosstradamus, Dillon Francis and Nero, have been announced as the top-liners for this year’s expanded HARD Summer festival, which moves to Whittier Narrows Recreation Area for a weekend of electronic music and hip-hop Aug. 2 and 3. The full lineup is here.

Construction at L.A. State Historic Park in downtown L.A. has prompted several big events to move this year. Whittier Narrows is about 10 miles east of downtown L.A. along the 10 Freeway. HARD this year expands to five stages.

Two-day general admission passes to the festival are $155; VIP passes cost $285.


Ears Wide Open: Indian School

by Kevin Bronson on April 22, 2014


Everybody loves a good comeback story. So here’s the abridged version of Indian School’s: Arturo Barrios, Justo Gonzalez and Gabriel Camacho spent the early part of last decade making dyed-in-the-mosh-pit punk rock as Audio Karate before parting ways. Fast-forward a few years, and frontman Barrios got something in the way of a reality check — he was involved in virtually back-to-back automobile accidents. While on the mend, he was inspired to write new songs, so he reunited with Gonzalez and Camacho and added Anthony Leach and Eric Wood to form Indian School. The quintet’s seven-song EP “The Cruelest Kind” bears only hint of the old band’s pop-punk; it’s equal parts scruffy rock and slow-building indie anthems, a solid effort by guys who obviously know their craft. Now, more than a year after its release, “Rob Your House” is getting notice from KROQ’s Locals Only. And in February, the band began work on a new album. Stay tuned.

||| Stream: “Rob Your House”

||| Live: Indian School plays May 17 at Trip in Santa Monica and June 14 at the Slidebar in Fullerton.


Kind of a terrific Tuesday:

► Long-running punk band DEATH visits the Satellite for a special night. “An Evening with DEATH” includes a live performance, a slideshow of rare photographs and a Q&A moderated by Chris Ziegler of LA Record.
► Washington, D.C., indie-rockers Deleted Scenes play the Church on York behind their new album “Lithium Burn,” with Weatherbox opening. Above is Deleted Scenes’ video for “Stutter.”
The Men rock the Echo behind their latest release, “Tomorrow’s Hits,” supported by Gun Outfit, Wand and Huffer at the Echo
► German composer Volker Bertelmann — doing business as Hauschka — plays the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
► It’s Swedish pop on the top of the bill at the Echoplex, with Tove Lo headlining a night that includes FMLYBND and Beginners.
► And party guy Asher Roth stops by the Troubadour, supported by Chuck Inglish and Doja Cat.


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Every psych-pop rugrat in the city should have been at the Echo for the Dios reunion on Sunday night, but it was 4/20 and, who knows, maybe they were on their couches practicing being psychedelic.

This was reason enough to man up, though: Dios, who later went by Dios (Malos) after catching some legal flak from Ronnie James Dio for their name, reunited to mark the 10-year anniversary of their self-titled debut album, which everybody including Pitchfork liked and which remains a singular document of West Coast pop. In other words, it relies on nuance and compositional grace (and maybe some subversiveness too) rather than just plundering those who, in decades prior, serenaded Technicolor sunsets with guitars in hand. And in 2004, hardly anybody else was doing it.

So the crowd at the Echo on Sunday was good but not the line-down-the-block that Dios’ music deserves. And despite the fact that frontman Joel Morales said the band had only two rehearsals, its set shimmered with transcendent moments. Long-timers [click to continue…]



Saturday was, quite possibly, make or break for Brokechella. And, by extension, a lot of idealists in the Los Angeles underground who stage DIY events without the benefit of deep pockets, political connections or alliances with big-time promoters.

Conceived four years ago by the Cartel, a multi-discipline arts collective, as a cheap weekender for those who get shut out of Coachella, Brokechella got ambitious this year. The event was staged at the graffiti-strewn abandoned warehouse complex (often used as a film location) on Santa Fe Avenue across the street from Villains Tavern in downtown L.A. It’s the same locale where the Jubilee — formerly the Silver Lake Jubilee — crashed and burned in a pile of debt last June.

Production costs, permitting, security, staffing, last-minute curveballs thrown by uniformed guardians of public safety — any of those pitfalls could have sabotaged Saturday’s Brokechella. But they didn’t.
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Ears Wide Open: Mystic Braves

by Kevin Bronson on April 21, 2014


Mystic Braves are the latest darlings to emerge from the Burger/Lolipop/psych-band-in-every-garage scene, and one of the least original. Not that that matters anymore, because, it is repeatedly pointed out to us, music (or a style of music) is new if it’s being heard the first time. And Mystic Braves — Julian Ducatenzeiler, Tony Malacara, Cameron Gartung, Shane Stotsenberg and Ignacio Gonzalez — have done their homework. Their sophomore album “Desert Island” (out next week) has a lot of Dick Dale-joined-up-with-the Electric Prunes feel, propulsive, catchy, spacey and roots firmly planted in the 1960s. Those in a certain demographic will get a nostalgia attack hearing “There’s a Pain,” with its guitar riff following the vocal melody, and the late Morton Stevens, who composed the theme song for the original “Hawaii Five-O” television series, has to be smiling down from heaven as he hears the intro to “Valley Rat.” “Born Without a Heart” opens with a drum roll and gallops along with dueling organ and surf guitar. S’all cool, man, cool.

||| Stream: “Born Without a Heart”

||| Live: Mystic Braves play Desert Daze at Sunset Ranch Oasis near Mecca on Saturday. They also are the Monday night residents at the Echo.

||| Also: After the jump, check out the video for “Desert Island”:
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