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Photos: Kindness at the El Rey Theatre

by Kevin Bronson on February 26, 2015

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Adam Bainbridge — aka Kindness — brought his lanky limbs, big band and honey-voiced guests to the El Rey Theatre on Wednesday night. Oh, and he also brought his video camera to the kickoff of his U.S. tour, recording the crowd for a music video he plans to make.

After an opening set by New Orleans-bred, Mississippi-based rapper Pell, Bainbridge took the stage with a full band (plenty more backup than he had in August at FYF Fest) and sprinkled in a few covers into the set along with songs from his 2014 album “Otherness.” On this night, Kindness was surrounded by a three-piece band and two
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thepopgroup

Few reunions of pioneering bands have come further out of left field than the comeback by the Pop Group, who were insurrectionists when they started in the U.K. in the late 1970s and seem to have lost none of their edge all these years later. After re-forming to play a handful of festival dates the past few years, the quartet has made “Citizen Zombie,” their first album in 35 years.The seemingly extemporaneous screeds on “Y,” their 1979 debut, made them among the most-punk of the post-punks, with their mix-and-mismatched styles of primal guitar rock, funk and dub propelling their politicized screeds. They made only two albums the first time around, but they lived on in influence, and have been acknowledged as such by a couple generations of artists. One old devotee was acclaimed producer Paul Epworth (Lorde, FKA Twigs, Adele, and others), who ended up working with original members Mark Stewart, Dan Catsis, Gareth Sager and Bruce Smith on “Citizen Zombie” (released this week via Freaks R Us). Soundtrack to a revolution, and not many of the kids are making those these days.

||| Stream: “Citizen Zombie” and “Mad Truth”

||| Live: The Pop Group perform March 10 at the Echoplex along with Peaking Lights, Sex Stains and DJ Michael Stock of Part Time Punks.

||| Also: Stream 1979′s “Y” below:

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Ears Wide Open: Frankie

by Britt Witt on February 26, 2015

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Pop princess Frankie may be relatively new to L.A. but anyone in the Bay Area (hometown is Oakland) would recognize her since she spent her childhood writing music and forming a band with her cousin. Now in the city where pop tart dreams can come true, Frankie Miller has partnered up with longtime collaborator Petros (Dillon Francis, One Direction, among others) for a sweet, retro, baby-doll single that sticks in your head. Her ’90s-inspired style is heavy on the girl power without being overbearing and is versatile enough to hang in a club or make the next Apple commercial. “Problems, Problems” is romantic with practicality, remaining extremely humble and pure as the 23-year-old she tells the story of a fizzling relationship. This single is the second to drop from her debut EP “Dreamstate,” due April 14 via South by Sea Music.

||| Stream: “Problems, Problems”

||| Live: Frankie performs at the Bootleg HiFi on March 5.

||| Also: Watch the Jancarlo Beck-directed video for “Blackout” below:

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Ears Wide Open: SWIMM

by Kevin Bronson on February 26, 2015

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Florida natives Chris Hess and Adam Winn — making music as SWIMM — have been making waves since they forsook their home state for Los Angeles, playing club shows, DIY events, galleries and basically anywhere they can add a little color to the room. Last August, they retooled 2013′s “Feel” EP into a deluxe edition, with bonus tracks and remixes, for an album-quality experience that reveals their broad range of influences. SWIMM is part ambient folk, part shambling psychedelia and part dance party, an odd mix that relies on sparkling guitars, willowy melodies and echo-laden vocals. Which is not quite the drenched-in-’60s nostalgia that might suggest. SWIMM this week unveiled the new single “Beverly Hells,” a propulsive, atmospheric number with a confrontational, slightly Dylanesque lyrical bent. A full-length album is in the works.

||| Download: “Beverly Hells”

||| Also: Stream “Wanderer” and “Souvenir” from the “Feel” EP:

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Ears Wide Open: Dankrupt

by Kevin Bronson on February 26, 2015

First, you have to be OK with the band name Dankrupt. (It was not until a recent hazy night in Echo Park that I learned it is not just a terrible pun but a slang term, sorry for being out of touch.) Then you have to be OK with videos featuring rock bands faux-playing in the squalor of the Salton Sea. And most importantly, you have to be OK with the fact that reggae rock is still a thing. Still with me? then meet Dankrupt — singer-guitarist Grant Bogorad, guitarist Enrique Paris, bassist Nick Banaszak, singer-keyboardist Derek Shields and drummer Tim Canton. They are, simply, the New Age Sublime. The L.A. quintet is releasing its “Moonlight” EP on March 13, and the song “Ghost of You” is just about Everything You’d Ever Want. There’s the drop. There’s a rap verse, courtesy of Johnny Love. There’s a pop chorus. And at 3:43 there’s a shreddy guitar solo that, unless the ears are failing me, is preceded by a swell of strings. Holy mother of Marley. Director Adam Tyree’s video piles it on too, featuring actors Stuart Campbell* and Marina Bruzadin. Just don’t pay attention to Shields’ fingers too much.

* Corrected: An earlier of this post mistakenly identified the actor as Tim Canton, who was the video’s producer.

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Video: Chelan, ‘Before It All’

by Kevin Bronson on February 26, 2015

Chelan, the long-running collaboration between Jen Grady and Justin Hosford, work out of Joshua Tree, have a visual collaborator in artist Kime Buzzelli (who does the duo’s album art) and take a slightly experimental approach to indie-pop. Their fourth album, the self-released “Equal Under Pressure,” features deft mix of peripatetic rhythms and layered vocals, both of which shine on the single “Before It Tall.” The album is short — it includes a couple of remixes from L.A.-based producer KID606 — but its decidedly out-of-the-mainstream take on indie-pop make it one of those under-the-radar releases that make you think there’s something in the air in the Mojave Desert. The video for “Before It All” was directed by Robert Williamson.

||| Stream: “Pretend We Live Forever”

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Thursday’s music menu:

► Singer-songwriter Mali Music visits the El Rey Theatre behind his album “Mali Is …,” with KP opening.
Caribou begins a three-night run of sold-out shows at the Fonda Theatre. Koreless supports.
► San Francisco duo Cathedrals play the Echo, supported by Empires, LANY and Rush Midnight.
► It’s a big night of soul at the Bootleg HiFi, where Houston collective the Suffers bring their Gulf Coast goodness. WeAretheBigBang opens.
► Local rockers Bear On Fire team up with Archer Black, the End of Summer and Nashville’s Kate Tucker and the Sons of Sweden for a show at the Satellite.
► And rocker Boots Electric continues his residency at the Viper Room, joined by Blackbird Days and Dig the Kid.

Also:

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Stream: The Airborne Toxic Event, ‘Dope Machines’

by Kevin Bronson on February 25, 2015

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The Airborne Toxic Event released a new album this week. “Dope Machines” arrived in the mail with a notice touting the L.A. quintet’s reinvention as an electro-pop band and something in the way of an artist’s statement from frontman Mikel Jollett: “We live in a world connected by these dope machines that do all this dope shit. And in some ways they enhance us and others they make us massively lonely and, well, dopey.” As distressing as it is to hear a Stanford-educated former journalist unironically use “dope” as an adjective, this inspired hope. Perhaps this missive heralded the arrival of a concept album?

Disappointingly, no. On their fourth album, the Airborne Toxic Event continues to commodify mawkishness — no worries, there’s still a big market for it — with 10 earworms about hurting or being hurt, leaving or being left, wanting or being wanted. [click to continue…]

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Keenhouse, née Ken Rangtuky, is a Los Angeles-based electronic music producer who split time between Europe and Southeast Asia in his youth, cultivating an interest in the sounds of both the East and West. A few weeks ago, he released his third (and most ambitious) album, “A Future Past,” on Sunlinxx Records, with 15 tracks clocking in at nearly 82 minutes. For this project, he “wanted to try something different musically, observing music and sound from a visual perspective,” ultimately creating music that blends classical instrumentation with electronic production, like on the lush and sublime track “Gravity.” The first single “Argon Decibel” begins with a cello before incorporating drums, synthetic textures, and other organic instruments to fill out its electronic ambiance as soft, modulated female vocals loft above the music. Album bonus cut “The Uncanny Valley,” however, begins with a percussive and rhythmic underbelly before swelling with jazzy drums and additional elements to create a hypnotic groove that races onward before winding down in a fade.

||| Stream: “Argon Decibel” and “The Uncanny Valley”

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Ears Wide Open: Odessa

by Kevin Bronson on February 25, 2015

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Odessa Jorgensen has taken a circuitous route to “Odessa” — the debut album that, it was announced this week, will come out April 28 via Chop Shop/Republic Records. The L.A.-based singer-songwriter, who counts the violin, guitar and a singing voice from heaven as her weapons, was a member of Americana outfits Bearfoot and the Biscuit Burners; she has played with the likes of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Old Crow Medicine Show, Abigail Washburn and Gill Landry; and, having spent time in Nashville and Northern California, she released music under the name Odessa Rose. But Odessa it is now, and on the EP she released in September she revealed herself on the tip of modern folk, recalling contemporaries like Ellie Goulding with echoes of legends like Joni Mitchell. The four songs on the EP — you’ve likely heard “I Will Be There” either on the radio or in a car commercial, and “Hummed Low” was used in a fashion video — are wrapped up with seven new ones on the album, which was produced by Jacquire King. At a recent private showcase, Odessa indicated she intends grow the project beyond singer-songwriter fare, and she’s currently touring with a full band. The latter will be on display at her April residency in Los Angeles.

||| Stream: “I Will Be There”

||| Live: Odessa does the free Monday night residency in April at the Bootleg HiFi.

||| Also: Check out the video for “I Will Be There” below:

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