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Photos: Jonwayne, Chester Watson, Russ at the Echo

by Kevin Bronson on December 19, 2014

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Jonwayne poured it on and took it off Thursday night at the Echo. The L.A. rapper and electro wizard kicked off his headlining show in a Biggie cape and spent the next hour channeling the slain rapper’s spirit, performing cuts from his debut “Rap Album One,” his 2012-13 cassette series and his Wayniac Mondays barrage from earlier this year, getting so worked up by the end that he went shirtless. Leading in to Jonwayne, Florida rapper Chester Watson was alternately stoic and snap-chatting the crowd — performing “Phantom” and “Pharoah,” and displaying charisma and confidence far beyond his 17 years. Russ kicked off the night with a 45-minute set, including “Coming Through,” “Gypsy” and “Yellow.” He shouted out to his mom, shifted between rap and singing and found the missing link between Kid Cudi and G-Unit.

Photos by Carl Pocket, courtesy of The Echo

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Andrew McMahon has a long history of crafting unfailingly catchy and unblinkingly earnest pop, first as singer/keyboardist for O.C. rockers Something Corporate and then under the guise Jack’s Mannequin, whose three albums of music were in large part informed by his battle with cancer. This fall he resurfaced as “Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness,” an album of revealing, optimistic and more-than-a-little-bit-grown-up songs written in Topanga Canyon.  “Cecilia and the Satellite” is a highlight — the piano-driven tune acts as an ode to his newborn daughter, Cecilia, detailing McMahon’s life leading up to her birth and then happily confesses, “through all the things my eyes have seen, the best by far is you.” The song continues to rise and is on the verge of taking over alternative radio. The video, directed by Olivier Agostini, features McMahon and his adorable daughter intertwined with beautiful clips featuring Anastasia Krivosheeva as a grown-up Cecilia. This video will make even the best of fathers look bad, while those in possession of ovaries will participate in a 3 minute 40 second “awwwww” fest … and possibly an ovary explosion.

— Jessica Shalvoy

||| Stream: “High Dive”

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Video: Tuxedo, ‘Do It’

by Seraphina Lotkhamnga on December 19, 2014

Born from the collaboration of two Grammy-nominated minds, soul artist Mayer Hawthorne and hip-hop producer Jake One, Tuxedo brings new funk music to the forefront. Much like their moniker, Tuxedo’s music mixes a touch of class to the groove-inducing sounds of funk music. After many years of friendship and collaboration, Tuxedo is ready to share the fruits of their labor — their debut album “Tuxedo” will be released March 3 on Stones Throw Records. This also marks Mayer’s return to the label since his debut release of “A Strange Arrangement” in 2009. First single off the self-titled album, “Do It,” has the bass line and percussion you’d expect from funk, with Hawthorne’s smooth croon carrying dance-worthy melody. The music video portrays a valet who can’t help but feel the music and dance, eventually auditioning to be a dancer in Tuxedo’s “music video.” In addition to releasing a few songs off the upcoming album online, Tuxedo has also released their own spin on the Paul McCartney holiday classic, “Wonderful Christmastime.”

— Caitlyn Trudnich

||| Stream: “So Good”

||| Download: Grab their cover of Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” below.

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Ears Wide Open: Jag Sun

by Seraphina Lotkhamnga on December 19, 2014

Jag Sun

The members of Jag Sun may look familiar if you knew both your local L.A. and O.C. bands. From the ashes of both Steelwells’ and Young Empress’ demise, the Glendale indie-pop band consisting of members Talip Peshkepia (aka Paulie Pesh, guitar/vocals) Jon Bradley (drums) and Robbie Gullage (bass) rise to play again. A bit wonkier in their new guise, the trio goes big on the first single “Modern Dinosaur” — bright choruses and and whopping guitar chords don’t leave them much room for pretense, and we’re all right with that.

||| Stream: “Modern Dinosaur”

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indiefmwide

Join me at 11 a.m. today on The Independent FM for Week 2 of the Buzz Bands LA 101, the countdown of my favorite L.A. songs of 2014. Today, I’ll spike the holiday punch with songs No. 70 through No. 40. Below, you’ll find the playlist and that always-handy stream of the show.

||| Week 1 of the countdown

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Friday’s fun things:

► Psych-pop five-piece Mystic Braves [pictured] close out a big year with a show at the Echo, joined by Mr. Elevator & the Brain Hotel, Drinking Flowers and Levitation Room.
Fishbone, celebrating 25 years as a band this year, stages its third annual “Crazy Glue XXXmas” show at the Troubadour, supported by Mike Dillon Band, the Bots, Lonnie Marshall and Rap Sabbath.
► Local quintet Bear On Fire heads up the lineup at the Satellite — get there early for Archer Black and Twin Oaks.
► The all-star outfit Royal Machines (fka Camp Freddy) does the first of two nights at the Roxy Theatre, supported by  Rebel Hotel.
► And it’s your hedge against holiday grouchiness, the Dan Band, at Club Nokia.

Also:
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Los Angeles, you were mighty good to us in 2014. Albums came from every nook and cranny, from the bedrooms of the DIYers to the scrappy studios that keep the engine running to the hallowed halls of the city’s pervasive Industry. We could have listened to a new local album per day and not run short of material, and that’s not counting EPs and singles. Our Buzz Bands LA year-end list for 2014 is a collaborative effort between this site’s principal contributors, Seraphina Lotkhamnga, Andrew Veeder and myself. Here are our favorite 20 L.A. albums of the year, with a slew of special mentions at the end:

— Kevin Bronson
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Stream: Honeyhoney, ‘Punk Kid’

by Kevin Bronson on December 18, 2014

honeyhoney2014 Despite their saccharine name, roots-rock duo Honeyhoney has never been short on attitude. There are moments on their two albums, 2008′s “First Rodeo” and 2012′s “Billy Jack,” where you sense that singer-fiddler-banjoist Suzanne Santo would just as soon whup you as serenade you; afterward, of course, her foil Ben Jaffe would buy you a drink, tug on his suspenders and say something like, “She gets like that sometimes.” But we digress. The L.A.-originated duo is in the studio with month with producer Dave Cobb (Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell) to start recording their third album of dirty Americana, due next year. Via their website, they have teased with the R-rated rave-up “Punk Kid,” which features Santo in full frontal rebuke. She’s mighty good at it too. The song is  available from Honeyhoney’s website on a name-your-price basis, with the proceeds going toward a new tour van.

||| Download: “Punk Kid”

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By Jeff Miller

Unfortunately for Ryan Adams — the prolific singer-songwriter whose new, self-titled album is among his best work — no one who left the Wiltern last night after his nearly sold-out show will remember the daring, Dead-like jams of “Magnolia Mountain” and “Cold Roses,” or the affecting, pop-less re-working of “New York, New York.” It won’t be appreciated for Adams careful, tempered guitar work on “Shadows,” or his drummer Freddie Bokkenheuser’s Levon Helm-esque laid-back precision on “When The Stars Go Blue.”

No, this show will be remembered for a PA that totally crapped out at perhaps the worst-possible time, towards the end of a slow, contemplative set that had clearly left many in the audience, especially those who had been over-imbibing, impatient. Mix those guys — let’s just call them douchebag hecklers and be done with it — with the notoriously temperamental Adams and a sound system that went from pristine to non-existent in the middle of a funny, improvisational song about jaundice (don’t ask), and you’ve got one of those unplanned moments in which things could very well go off the hinges, quickly.
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chester

Florida native Chester Watson released his first mixtape on his 15th birthday, and has been busy in the two years since. This year alone, the ballet dancer-turned-producer and rapper released a pair of EPs, “Guru Vol. 3” and “My Girlfriend Made Me Drop This,” and the five-act, 28-track album “Tin Wooki,” an impressive and sprawling collection of grimy, hazy and jazzy kick-snare beats and heady hip-hop that is lined with gold. Watson’s voice brings to mind Earl Sweatshirt or Guru in his even-keeled monotone flow and his raps bring to mind Joey Bada$$ or MF Doom in how cleverly they jump around the beat at different speeds, as on “Tin Wooki” tracks “Camels and Cranes” and “Film Noir.” New track “Fantastic” is another quick and dusty ditty with a flute harmony floating above a minimal boom-bap beat and the rap, “I’m from the future so I know you ain’t ahead of me / Strategically defeat as I triangulate trajectory / So you see why still no one is next to me, right? / Prolly in a league from beyond.”

||| Stream: “Camels and Cranes,” “Film Noir,” and “Fantastic”

||| Live: Chester Watson plays the Echo tonight with Jonwayne.

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