Thundercat, neé Los Angeles’ Stephen Bruner, brought his 2013 tour to a close at the sold-out Echoplex on Thursday night, returning home triumphant traversing and North America. After a rousing introduction by the Gaslamp Killer, the six-string bass virtuoso took the stage fronting the three-piece band, flanked by Dennis Hamm on keys and Justin Brown on drums, and put on a masterful spectacle of avant-garde, funkadelic jazz-hop that had the whole place captivated. The visceral set was impressive on every level and more like a journey, with each player excelling at their own instrument in such improvisational ways that the innovative combination of them all was almost too much to take in, like an ecstasy of intoxicating psychedelic rock ’n’ roll jazz.
Some songs had segments that hit you like the sonic equivalent of that intense tunnel in Willy Wonka, while others twinkled with beautiful rhythms, Bruner’s voice seductively floating above it all. His lively and unpredictable fingertips danced [click to continue…]
► Night 1 of the 24th annual KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas goes off at the Shrine Auditorium, with Kings of Leon, Vampire Weekend, Queens of the Stone Age, AFI, Arctic Monkeys, Cage the Elephant, Grouplove, Foals and New Politics.
► Seattle folk-rockers the Head and the Heart headline the Wiltern behind their new album “Let’s Be Still.” That’s the band’s video for “Shake,” above.
► Gaby Moreno bring her bilingual magic to the Troubadour, supported by David Garza and Irene Diaz.
► NYC electro duo the White Panda leads the party at the El Rey Theatre, with Clinton VanSciver and Anthony Fresch opening.
► Crash Kings rock the Satellite behind their new album “Dark of the Daylights,” with My Jerusalem and King Washington supporting.
► And Jonathan Richman winds up his three-night stint at the Mint.
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“Lost Kitten,” the latest single from the fifth album by Metric, “Synthetica,” becomes a fanciful story in the hands of video director and fellow Torontonian Sammy Rawal, who imagines a young man’s quixotic quest to Mexico to find his mother, “an angel.” The video stars dancer/actor Sheldon McIntosh (aka Tynomi Banks, the pseudonym he uses when performing in drag) and follows him through Mexico City on a “journey with a queer adaptation, as Sheldon (his massive presence amplified with a sequin jacket and kitten heels) … collects mysterious symbols and clues from pedestrians on the colorful city streets before the mysterious pilgrimage leads him into Xochimilco, where he performs a display of mind and body-bending choreography on a flat-bottomed trajinera,” to quote the press release.
Bootie LA fanatics may recognize Jason Arnold as ShyBoy, the resident DJ and vocal mashup artist, but they may be surprised by Arnold’s ability to go beyond Top 40 hits and electronic riffs. As ShyBoy, the musician who just released his debut “Water on Mars,” Arnold taps into his musical side that enjoys Nick Drake and Sufjan Stevens. There is a delicate aspect that Arnold displays on songs such as “Bird in Flight,” but staying true to what ShyBoy’s persona has become on stage at Echoplex’s monthly parties, electronic components that veer toward M83 atmospherics still come to the forefront on other tunes such as “Every Time I See the Moon” and “Carousel.” Shyboy’s many personas may not seem to synch, but his versatility is as admirable as it is wonderfully dramatic. ShyBoy’s “Water One Mars,” which was produced by Mark Nubar and features collaborations with Wendy Waldman, Allee Willis and David Batteau, is out now.
||| Stream: “Every Time I See the Moon” and “Carousel”
||| Live: ShyBoy has a Friday night residency in January at the Hotel Cafe. [click to continue…]
If you close your eyes and forget for a moment that this is the Internet, you can almost imagine the new Warpaint song “Biggy” taking shape in a cloud of who-knows-what in Joshua Tree. The L.A. quartet’s desert vision has everything except an alien landing — fever-dream vocals, a mysterious synth line and a simple trance-inducing rhythm. The song is the second taste of the forthcoming second full-length (a self-titled affair, due Jan. 21 via Rough Trade) from indie darlings Emily Kokal, Theresa Wayman, Jenny Lee Lindberg and Stella Mozgawa. The album was produced by renowned studio hand Flood, with Nigel Godrich contributing a couple of mixes. Ready, set, hypnotize.
||| Download: “Biggy” (for a limited time)
||| Previously: “Love to Die”
Back from our Thanksgiving week off, and busy making lists for our upcoming annual year-end countdown, the Buzz Bands LA Show returns at 11 a.m. today with two hours of SoCal that’s every bit as comforting as the space heater we have working overtime at BBLA HQ. Tune in to The Independent FM for new tunes from Bonfire Beach, Dreamland, SISU, Froth, VUM, the Entrance Band and Hotel Cinema. I’ll have songs from four of the bands playing the Dec. 14 Christmas Sweater Festival as well — Deap Vally, Western Lows, Boardwalk and Crash, along with a smattering of other recent favorites like Western Scene, PAPA, Together Pangea and Juliette Commagere.
After the jump, today’s playlist, and a stream of the show:
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The new trio going by the name Levels (not to be confused with the Seattle outfit or the NYC guys going by the same name) is the latest in a flannel jacket full of L.A. bands partying like it’s 1996. The band — singer-guitar Cody Wilson along with bassist/keyboardist Roxor Evensen and drummer Mikey Rollingchild (both of whom do their share of whoo-whooing) — met as teenagers in Florida before moving west to try Hollywood on for size. Their newest song “Revolution II” is textbook loud/soft dynamic, with a crunchy, arena-sized chorus that’s somewhere between Weezer and a truckload of guys from the Northwest. Sure beats a banjo.
It’s a full-on Friday night:
► Four bands associated with the 1980s movement known as the Paisley Underground — the Bangles, the Three O’Clock [pictured at Coachella in April], the Dream Syndicate and Rain Parade — team up at the Fonda Theatre for a show benefiting music education programs in L.A.
► The Skirball Cultural Center’s “Into the Night” series continues with an evening of music, performance art and dance with Avi Buffalo (previewing some tunes from the band’s forthcoming second album), Brooklyn-based People Get Ready and Jmy James Kidd.
► The legendary Bobby Womack plays the Saban Theatre, along with John Tesh. Womack’s “The Bravest Man in the Universe,” his first album of original material since the mid-1990s, came out last year.
► PAPA caps a big year that saw the quartet release its debut album “Tender Madness” with a show at the El Rey Theatre, supported by Moses Sumney.
► It’s the second of three nights with Jonathan Richman at the Mint.
► And it’s a rockin’ local lineup at El Cid, with The Vim Dicta, who last month released a new EP titled “Von Tango,” along with Freefall Rescue and Levels.
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Maybe it’s the preponderance of rosey-cheeked synth-pop that’s come out of Sweden the past couple of years, but I confess that I almost forgotten about Division of Laura Lee. The brash quartet — think Primal Scream on a post-punk bender crashing a local skate park — blasted its way onto the scene in 2002 with “Black City,” via the same Burning Heart Records that deposited into our earholes the likes of the Hives, Turbonegro and the (International) Noise Conspiracy. Five years after a full-length that found the band treading water (2008′s “Violence Is Timeless”), DOLL returned this year with their fourth album, “Tree,” which was produced in part by Jason Lytle (Grandaddy). In some ways, these guys could be the shoegazing older cousins of FIDLAR. Either way, I’m feeling “Ruddlerless.”
||| Stream: “Rudderless”